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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
September 2022
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Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC Creative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Book description

Narrative Science examines the use of narrative in scientific research over the last two centuries. It brings together an international group of scholars who have engaged in intense collaboration to find and develop crucial cases of narrative in science. Motivated and coordinated by the Narrative Science project, funded by the European Research Council, this volume offers integrated and insightful essays examining cases that run the gamut from geology to psychology, chemistry, physics, botany, mathematics, epidemiology, and biological engineering. Taking in shipwrecks, human evolution, military intelligence, and mass extinctions, this landmark study revises our understanding of what science is, and the roles of narrative in scientists' work. This title is also available as Open Access.


‘Through a mosaic of case studies from the natural and social sciences, this remarkable collection investigates the many ways in which scientists use narratives as modes and sites of sense-making, representation, and reasoning. The Narrative Science approach imaginatively reconfigures the relationship between philosophy, narratology and scientific practice, enriching each of these fields of inquiry as a result.’

Chiara Ambrosio - University College London

‘This rich collection makes a broad-ranging examination of scientific practices, revealing the ubiquitous presence and diverse functions of narratives. An important and illuminating emphasis is on the key role of narrative as a 'technology of sense-making’. This path-breaking volume will have far-reaching implications for science studies, with deep philosophical implications.’

Hasok Chang - University of Cambridge

‘Narrative Science is an important and original collection of essays which together evidence narrative’s crucial epistemic role within science, and demonstrate the many ways in which narrative is involved in, sometimes integral to, the production of scientific knowledge.’

Sarah Dillon - University of Cambridge

‘Was science ever so austere and self-effacing as its defenders imply by praising it as ‘data-driven’? The chapters of this important collection demonstrate the vital role of narrative not just in popular writing on science, but in creative research, pointing the way to a more encompassing historical philosophy of science.’

Theodore M. Porter - UCLA

‘Narrative Science eloquently parries dismissive, ‘just-so’ critiques of story-telling in science by demonstrating that scientists past and present have used narrative as a way of thinking: that is, a tool for making sense of the natural, human, and social worlds they study, and for creating new knowledge.’

Anne Vila - University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Full book PDF

Page 1 of 2

  • Narrative Science
    pp i-ii
  • Narrative Science - Title page
    pp iii-iii
  • Reasoning, Representing and Knowing since 1800
  • Copyright page
    pp iv-iv
  • Contents
    pp v-vii
  • Figures
    pp viii-ix
  • Tables
    pp x-x
  • Contributors
    pp xi-xv
  • Preface and Acknowledgements
    pp xvi-xx
  • I - Prologues
    pp 1-58
  • 1 - Narrative: A General-Purpose Technology for Science
    pp 3-30
  • 2 - What Is Narrative in Narrative Science? The Narrative Science Approach
    pp 31-58
  • 3 - Mass Extinctions and Narratives of Recurrence
    pp 61-81
  • 4 - The Narrative Nature of Geology and the Rewriting of the Stac Fada Story
    pp 82-103
  • 5 - Reasoning from Narratives and Models: Reconstructing the Tohoku Earthquake
    pp 104-121
  • 6 - Stored and Storied Time in Archaeology
    pp 122-140
  • 7 - Great Exaptations: On Reading Darwin’s Plant Narratives
    pp 143-163
  • 8 - From Memories to Forecasting: Narrating Imperial Storm Science
    pp 164-184
  • 9 - Visual Evidence and Narrative in Botany and War: Two Domains, One Practice
    pp 185-205
  • 10 - The Trees’ Tale: Filigreed Phylogenetic Trees and Integrated Narratives
    pp 206-226
  • IV - Interlude
    pp 227-244
  • 11 - Process Tracing and Narrative Science
    pp 229-244
  • 13 - Thick and Thin Chemical Narratives
    pp 267-286
  • 14 - Reporting on Plagues: Epidemiological Reasoning in the Early Twentieth Century
    pp 287-308
  • VI - Narrative Sensibility and Argument
    pp 349-444
  • When narrative acts as a site for reasoning

Page 1 of 2


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