The rhetorical efficacy of Michael F. Guyer's Being Well-Born
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of English Honors Theses; 2006
The political power of the rhetoric of science originates from the emphasis that is put on objective truth. To contribute to a fuller understanding of this trend and its consequences, I propose to present and analyze the rhetorical efficacy of a popular scientific textbook, Michael F. Guyer's Being Well-Born: An Introduction to Heredity and Eugenics (1927), in the context of the highly susceptible culture of turn-of-the-century America. By understanding how this text functioned during its publication, more than forty years after Francis Galton first coined the term “eugenics,” I can examine the cultural situation to which Guyer speaks. Guyer’s rhetorical strategies create an ethos of rationality, compassion, and morality, which influences and reassures his audience about the ethical and political necessity of accepting his conclusions. Understanding this conversation lends a greater understanding of current discourse surrounding fields that concern themselves with genetic engineering. Advisors: Dion Cautrell & Nan Johnson
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