"Biocapitalism and Culture"
A Talk by Ashley Dawson
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Light reception to follow.
Ashley Dawson is currently Professor of English at the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY), and Chairperson of the English Department at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. He is the author of The Routledge Concise History of Twentieth-Century British Literature (Routledge, 2013) and Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain (University of Michigan Press, 2007).
This presentation examines recent literary and artistic works that engage with Synthetic Biology in order to gain critical perspective on – and a ground for activist intervention in - biocapitalism’s brave new world. Synthetic Biology (SynBio) is an emerging technology that allows scientists to engage in extreme forms of genetic engineering. Rather than swapping existing genes from one species to another as in “traditional” genetic engineering, scientists can now write entirely new genetic code on a computer, “print” it out, and insert it into living organisms – or even create brand new forms of life. The SynBio industry is booming, with a projected market value of $11 billion by 2016, yet there has been virtually no regulation of the industry and little assessment by organizations such as the WHO of the potential risks associated with synthetic organisms. Artists and writers have filled this void by broaching key questions about the SynBio revolution: what ethical obligations does the creation of synthetic organisms entail? Will SynBio foster human liberation, as its boosters proclaim, or entrench existing forms of inequality and imperialism? Are there processes or institutions through which a global citizenry can challenge novel forms of biopower?
“'Have-his-carcase': Habeas Writs, (Human) Rights, and Pickwick“
A Talk by Sarah Winter
Monday, December 8, 2014
5 pm to 7 pm
306 Wheeler Hall
Sarah Winter is Professor of English and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of The Pleasures of Memory: Learning to Read with Charles Dickens
(Fordham University Press, 2011) and Freud and the Institution of Psychoanalytic Knowledge
(Stanford University Press, 1999).
***This talk will focus on a pre-circulated paper. For a copy, please email Wendy Xin
. (Papers should be distributed by Monday, December 1st.)