How does science inspire the literary imagination? Can science writing be a literary art? The Kenyon Review is looking for poetry, fiction, essays, and drama that respond to issues in science, ecology, and the environment for a special issue to be published in Sept/Oct 2016.
Good science writing isn’t only about science: it is also about the way we think, and the ways in which that process of thought is shaped by history, culture, ideology, even the language in which we express those ideas. Only fifty years after Galileo published Sidereus Nuncius, or the “Starry Messenger,” which gave the first account of his telescopic observations of the Moon and four satellites around Jupiter, his discoveries became a crucial metaphor in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. Cutting-edge science quickly becomes the inspiration for–and subject of–poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.
In conjunction with that special issue, KR will host an online discussion of writers, editors, and scientists on the question of what makes science writing literary. Questions we hope to consider include: What makes good science writing effective? Should science writing make use of narrative conventions inherited from the novel? What is the role of metaphor in science writing? How do these literary conceits shape readers’ understanding of scientific issues? Does the dramatization of scientific discovery shift attention from science to character, or does it humanize the scientific process for readers?