Center for Humanities: Monday Night Lecture Series

Monday, April 15, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:30 PM (ET)
Usdan University Center Usdan 300 (Daniel Family Commons & Lounge)
Event Type
Savage, Erinn

Hyperbole as community performance (an unbelievable breakthrough in STS)

Steve Woolgar, Linköping and Oxford 

In its more interesting and provocative moods, Science and Technology Studies (STS) relentlessly interrogates the nature, dynamics and limits of the otherwise. STS assumes responsibility for demonstrating that especially “hard cases” of cultural production  – truth, facts, proof, scientific knowledge, technological capacity – could be otherwise. This paper draws on recent analytic themes in STS in order to interrogate the practices of hyperbole – construed as an example of figurative or nonliteral language practice whereby meanings are other than they seem. The paper introduces and develops the notion of “performing community” based on feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith’s textual analysis. Hyperbole is enacted and sustained in virtue of the performance of communities of entities, attributes, expectations and relationships. In line with Nietzsche’s dictum that the point of hyperbole is to prevent us dying from the truth, the paper reaches an unbelievable conclusion.

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