AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Communicating Science Through Poetry from 1780 to the Present

by Octavia Jane Cade

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Science; Poetry; Science Poetry; Literature and Science
Record ID: 1298489
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5677


This thesis is a part academic, part creative study of poetry about science: specifically, how poetry can be used as an avenue for science communication. A brief literature review has been prepared and a wide variety of science poetry analysed. Poetry analysed was in English or English translation, and confined to the time period 1780-present. Trends within the primary literature were recognised and different approaches to engaging science with poetry explored in order to produce a practical primer. My original contribution to knowledge is the recognition and discussion of the five inter-related approaches that science communicators can use to engage with poetry: perception, language, experience, form and narrative. Case studies on each of these contain original research on the poets Cilla McQueen, Edith Sitwell, Mark O’Connor, Harry Martinson and in the field of cyber-poetry. These approaches are illustrated in five new creative collections. A bestiary of microbes illustrates the organisational principle inherent in scientific perception. The use of mathematical language is demonstrated in a series of poems about the Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya. The personal experience of science, and the ability of scientists and civilians to act as witnesses to science events, is explored in a collection about the Manhattan Project. An edited collection of found poetry represents the changes of form within science poetry, and narrative is represented by a story of a scientist trapped in the periodic table of elements.