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Release: Immediate

Scholars look at story-telling, science and scholarship at UI Jan. 30-31

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Storytelling's emerging power to shed light on academic disciplines as diverse as music, medicine, education, environmentalism, humanities, social science and science education will be the focus of an interdisciplinary conference at the University of Iowa Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31.

The conference, "Story-Telling in Science and Scholarship," is sponsored by the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI). The gathering will feature nearly 30 scholars from more than 20 different academic fields discussing the ways narrative techniques are used to investigate and explain social, cultural, artistic and scientific phenomena.

"Narrative as an explanatory device has really come into prominence in a variety of disciplines in the past several decades," says David J. Depew, professor of communications studies and a co-organizer of the conference. "This conference is an opportunity to examine that trend and to showcase the work that scholars at the University are doing with narrative."

The conference, which is free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30 at 107 Brewery Square, 123 N. Linn St., with introductory remarks by Depew. The program concludes at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 with remarks by Deirdre McCloskey, professor of economics and history and a co-organizer of the conference.

The program includes seven, hour-long panel discussions, each featuring three short presentations by scholars from the UI and other universities in the United States.

"The format gives many people across a wide range of disciplines the opportunity to converse with each other," Depew says.

POROI tradition is to ask that participants prepare for the conference by reading the submitted papers before attending individual sessions. For more information, visit POROI's website at

Papers are also available by calling POROI at (319) 335-2753.



Here is the schedule for the conference, "Story-Telling in Science and Scholarship," sponsored by the Project on the Rhetoric of Inquiry (POROI), at the University of Iowa Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31:


3 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Introduction: "The Narrative Turn"

3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. "Narrative and Self-Knowledge." Chair, Kathleen M. Farrell, associate education, Jewish studies program, Michigan State University, "Narrative, Psychology, and Vocation: Jerome Bruner as Autobiographer"; Leslie H. Margolin, associate professor of counseling, rehabilitation, and student development, and POROI, "Telling Incest Stories"; Thomas Z. Pozen, graduate student in French and Italian at the UI, "Narrative, Knowledge, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. "Attributing Motives: Narrative and Our Knowledge of Others." Chair, Frederick Antczak, professor of rhetoric at the UI; Ralph E. Cintron, associate professor of rhetoric at the UI, "Story-Telling and Ethnography"; Eugene Garver, of the philosophy department at Saint Johns University, "Narrative, Rhetorical Argument, and Ethical Authority"; Robert P. Newman, adjunct professor of communication studies at the UI, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Goldhagen: A Narrative of Guilt and Redemption."

5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Discussion and Reception.


9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. "Story-Telling and Social Negotiation." Chair: Robert Sessions, of the philosophy department at Kirkwood Community College; James A. Throgmorton, associate professor of urban and regional planning at the UI, "Telling Persuasive Stories of City Transformation"; Elisabeth Hamin, of the community and regional planning department of Iowa State University, and Mark Hamin, of the history and sociology of science department at the University of Pennsylvania, "From Interested Controversions to Interpreted Conversations: Two Case-Stories of How Participant Communities Enact Disputes Between Traditional and Innovative Uses."

10 a.m. to 11 a.m. "Story-Telling on the Boundary between Nature and Culture." Chair, Barbara Biesecker, associate professor of rhetoric at the UI; Paul R. Greenough, professor of history at the UI, "Hunter's Drowned Land: An Environmental Fantasy of the Victorian Sunderbans"; Alison Werner, graduate student in law at the UI, "Paleoanthropological Narratives: Bones of Contention"; Richard P. Horwitz, professor of American Studies at the UI, "Some Swine Disease Science."

General Discussion

11:30 Lunch (not provided)

1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. "Narrative and Natural Science." Chair, Jon Ringen, professor of literature, science, and the arts at the UI; Jo Anne Ollerenshaw Lewis, graduate student in science education at the UI, and Steven R. Yussen, dean of the UI College of Education, "Stories as a Vehicle for Elementary School Children to Think About and Learn Science"; Margaret B. Miller-Vaughan, of the St. Ambrose University MBA Program, "Mr. Tansug"; David Stern, associate professor of philosophy at the UI, "Rhetoric, Narrative and Argument in the Work of Bruno Latour" David E. Klemm, professor of religion at the UI, and William H. Klink, professor of physics and astronomy at the UI, "The Role of Models in Science and Theology."

2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. "Narrative and The Work of Art: Performing Stories in Various Media." Chair, Stephen C. Foster, professor of art and art history at the UI; Thomas Christensen, associate professor of music, "Telling Stories With (and About) Music"; Garrett Stewart, professor of English at the UI, "Ontogeny, Phylogeny, and the Cinematic Masterplot"; Marlena Corcoran of the UI Honors Program, "Understanding Laughter."

3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. "Narrative and the Life-Cycle: Stories about Being Sick and Dying." Chair, Bruce E. Gronbeck, professor of communications studies at the UI; Dieter Boxmann, graduate student in rhetorical studies at the UI, "From Principles to Process: How Story-Telling Challenges Medical Accountability for Death"; Patricia Kelley, professor of social work at the UI, "The Use of Narrative in Social Work Treatment and Research"; Carol E.H. Scott-Conner, professor of surgery at the UI, "Training the Fallible Hero: Narrative and Myth in Surgical Education."

4:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Summary and Final Discussion.