Thesis ID: CBB001561460

Visualizing Science: A Semiotic Analysis of Visual Representations in Ornithology Journals, 1859--2003 (2006)


Winn, Wendy Lee (Author)

University of Minnesota
Gross, Alan G.

Publication Date: 2006
Edition Details: Advisor: Gross, Alan G.
Physical Details: 223 pp.
Language: English

From simple diagrams to complex data charts, non-verbal forms of communication have been indispensable to those communicating science. Yet only recently have scientific illustrations garnered any scholarly interest. Still missing in these discussions, however, is a way of talking about the means by which the verbal and visual combine to create meaning in the scientific article. Using the field of ornithology as the object of study, this dissertation adopts a hybrid approach, incorporating elements from Peirce's theory of signs and Kress and van Leeuwen's social semiology to analyze how tables and visuals operate within a scientific text and how their functions have changed over time. Applying this theoretical framework and an historical methodology to a stratified random sample of articles from five top ornithology journals, from 1859 to the present, permits me to conclude that based on their internal structure and social conventions established within the scientific community, paintings, photographs, diagrams, tables, and graphs provide visual evidence for descriptive arguments; diagrams, tables, and graphs provide visual evidence for correlative arguments; and photographs, tables, and graphs provide visual evidence for causal arguments. But distilling their functions down to one sentence in no way does justice to the complex way in which visuals carry out these functions in the history of ornithology as traced in this study. What is depicted and how it is depicted is dependant upon the state of the science at the time and the type of depiction vehicles available. Whatever the choice, a clear synergy exists between text and illustrations and tables, demonstrating how ornithology is dependant upon visual modes to communicate knowledge.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 67/08 (2007). UMI pub. no. 3230273.

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Authors & Contributors
Galison, Peter Louis
Daston, Lorraine J.
Warner, Charles H. (Chuck)
Lowther, David
Krause, Kelly
Jane Coutts
Archives of Natural History
Public Understanding of Science
Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Journal of Medical Biography
Basilisken-Presse im Verlag Natur & Text
Zone Books
University Press of Kansas
University of Texas Press
University of Chicago Press
Princeton University Press
Scientific illustration
Visual representation; visual communication
Science and art
Charles D. Bunker
Cheyne, William Watson (1852-1932)
Hardwicke, Thomas
MacArthur, Robert Helmer
Huxley, Julian Sorell
Stresemann, Erwin
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
18th century
21st century
20th century, early
17th century
Kansas (U.S.)
London (England)
United States
Berlin (Germany)
British East India Company

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