Accounts of the rhetorical tradition in early modern England often focus on the Royal Society of London and the scientific epistemologies and visual pedagogies surrounding technologies like the microscope. One critic of the Royal Society, Margaret Cavendish, theorized her own optics to counter the increasing exclusivity of the scientific community. An analysis of this woman’s optics reveals how the rhetorical concept of mimesis brought a theory of embodied, material sight to a historical moment in which objectivity was emerging. This critically imaginative analysis thus brings forth an early rhetorics of science in which alternative epistemologies may critique mechanical, experimental processes and argue for more inclusive scientific methods.
Original Publication Information
Poole, Megan. "A Woman’s Optics: Margaret Cavendish, Sensory Mimesis, and Early Modern Rhetorics of Science." 2021 Journal for the History of Rhetoric, 24(2):195-222.
Poole, Megan, "A Woman’s Optics: Margaret Cavendish, Sensory Mimesis, and Early Modern Rhetorics of Science" (2021). Faculty Scholarship. 546.