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Science Surveys and Histories of Literature: Reflections on an Uneasy Kinship

Laura Otis
Isis
Vol. 101, No. 3 (September 2010), pp. 570-577
DOI: 10.1086/655794
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/655794
Page Count: 8
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Science Surveys and Histories of Literature: Reflections on an Uneasy Kinship
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Abstract

ABSTRACT With their common focus on narrative, literary scholars and historians of science share a close relationship with language and can offer each other valuable interpretive insights. Particularly revealing in each field are scientists' and literary writers' changing uses of metaphor, which is critical to each kind of scholarship since both disciplines place such a high value on cultural context. Any cross‐disciplinary help, however, needs to take into account the essential differences between the fields: contrasting views of what constitutes evidence and varying relationships with the past. Since both kinds of scholarship involve creating as well as analyzing narratives, each field has developed its own sense of pacing and significance, and their differing approaches to truth deserve respect.

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