Michael Rectenwald

I recently joined the the Liberal Studies Program at New York University as a Master Teacher of Writing in Global Liberal Studies. My interests in writing studies and cultural studies involve the role of writing in the construction of knowledge, with particular focus on the 19th-century British context.

My dissertation, The Publics of Science: Periodicals and the Making of British Science, 1820-1860, is a study of scientific rhetoric in cultural context. It examines the new nineteenth-century ‘knowledge industry,’ focusing on the burgeoning periodical market as an important context for authors, editors, reviewers, publishers and educational reformers, who vied for cultural and scientific authority. Drawing on frameworks from the Rhetoric of Science, the history of the book, the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, and Bruno Latour's actor-network theory, I introduce to Science Studies the kind of revisionism that has been directed at the “public sphere” in cultural history and critical theory. I argue that the landscape of science-in-culture should be revised to account for multiple, distinct, yet overlapping publics or “common contexts.”

My recent work has treated the role of writing in the construction of knowledge and knowledge participants. My essay, “‘Ours and for Us’: The Periodicals and Politics of ‘Useful Knowledge,’” which will appear in a special issue of Genre on the “New Histories of Writing,” considers the role of useful knowledge periodicals and mechanics magazines in the construction of scientific reading and writing subjects in early nineteenth-century Britain. I am currently working on a book on 19th-century artisan Secularism.

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Last modified 15 May 2008