Communication ETDs

Publication Date



The debate on whether art has any cognitive value might be traced to the texts of early philosophers and theorists who have approached the matter. In general, art has been constrained to contemplation and aesthetic experience while its contribution to knowledge is often disregarded. Science, on the other hand, constitutes the main system of organized knowledge production and enunciation. Contemporary artistic practices that address scientific knowledge tend to reformulate the latter in order to either produce new experiences with it or expand its cognitive capabilities. The works produced by these practices serve as artifacts that expose science's biases, axiomatic tenets, priorities, and limitations, as well as contest and complete the realms of experience in which science fails to provide an account. As discursive artifacts, these artworks may be analyzed from a rhetorical framework and methodology in order to unveil their role in rearticulating science and producing responses to the specific situation in which they come into being. Through a rhetorical analysis of 'Eclipses for Austin' (2009) by Mexican artist Pablo Vargas Lugo, this thesis aims to identify and describe the way contemporary artistic practices operate to expand on knowledge produced from scientific inquiry and enunciation. The analysis, grounded in Lloyd Bitzer's idea of the rhetorical situation, has shown that these works address a rhetorical exigence (generated by the differences and similarities between art and science), are limited and enabled by constraints from both realms of experience, and produce a fitting response helps to expand the knowledge and understanding formulated by science.




Contemporary Art, Science, Rhetorical Criticism, Knowledge, Solar Eclipses

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Foss, Karen

First Committee Member (Chair)

White, Judith M.

Second Committee Member

Schaefer, Richard