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The scientist in literature: images and stereotypes - their importance


Haynes, RD, The scientist in literature: images and stereotypes - their importance, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 14, (4) pp. 384-398. ISSN 0308-0188 (1989) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 Informa UK Limited

DOI: doi:10.1179/isr.1989.14.4.384


Recent surveys of public attitudes to science and scientists have indicated that scientists are seen in highly stereotyped forms, most of them unfavourable. Before scientists can alter their public image, it is necessary for them to understand how it has arisen. One very important way is through the literary tradition the manner in which scientists have been presented as fictional characters from the medieval alchemists to the computer experts and physicists of contemporary literature. These depictions of the scientist have not only reflected the writers' opinions of science and contemporary scientists, but have, in turn, influenced society's image of the scientist and the public response to science. There are five major stereotypes which recur with varying frequency throughout the history of Western literature: the evil alchemist; the stupid virtuoso or projector; the unfeeling researcher; the heroic adventurer, utopian or world saviour; the helpless discoverer unable to control his discovery. This review traces the emergence of these stereotypes, suggests why they arose and examines the effect they have had on contemporary attitudes to science.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:literature, science, fiction
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Literary studies
Research Field:Comparative and transnational literature
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture
UTAS Author:Haynes, RD (Dr Roslynn Haynes)
ID Code:121726
Year Published:1989
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2017-10-12
Last Modified:2017-11-27

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