Jordynn Jack, “Training the Brain: Rhetoric, Neuropolicy, and Education”

June 29, 2021

Over the past several decades, lawmakers have used scientific studies of brain development and function to justify education policy choices. Although such findings are always subject to change or re-interpretation, increasingly, the logic of “brain science” is being equated with a kind of fundamental truth. Practically, this often leads to justifications for programs ranging from cursive writing mandates among primary school students to holistic medical interventions intended to prevent mental decline in older age.

In this podcast, Jordynn Jack, Chi Omega Term Distinguished Professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explores how contemporary public rhetorical strategies have advanced the idea that we are “neurological subjects,” with identities located in and constructed through our cognitive abilities. Ultimately, Jack’s work invites us to consider how we understand and use science in our personal lives and in the public sphere.

Jordynn Jack
Jordynn Jack, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jordynn Jack is Chi Omega Term Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches courses in rhetorical theory, rhetoric of science, women’s rhetorics, writing in the natural sciences, and composition. Her scholarly work focuses on the rhetoric of science and technology, women’s rhetorics, and genre. She is the author of Science on the Home Front: American Women Scientists in World War II  (University of Illinois Press, 2009) and Autism and Gender: From Refrigerator Mothers to Computer Geeks (University of Illinois Press, 2014), How Writing Works (Oxford, 2016), Raveling the Brain: Toward a Transdisciplinary Neurorhetoric (Ohio State University Press, 2019), and two edited collections, Neurorhetorics (Routledge, 2012) and Retellings: Opportunities for Feminist Research in Rhetoric and Composition Studies (2019). Her articles have appeared in PMLA, College English, College Composition and Communication, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Rhetoric Review, Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Women’s Studies in Communication.