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Title:The Stake and the Chip: Biomedical and Genomic Discourse and the Management of Difference in Popular Culture
Author(s):Levina, Marina
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Paula Treichler
Department / Program:Communications
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Mass Communications
Abstract:Metaphors about bodies and their management help us better understand the assimilation of scientific paradigms into popular culture. At the same time, they underline the value of popular language and imagery as a way of appropriating science into popular imagination. This study investigates key metaphors associated with two 20th century scientific systems for studying, identifying, classifying, and managing human differences: blood and genes. Translated through metaphor into popular culture, the science of blood and the science of genetics have contributed equally compelling constructions of the body, both systems using scientific evidence as the primary source for understanding and classifying organisms and bodies. Yet the two systems are radically different-they require different professional training and laboratory practices, draw on different sets of metaphors, take place in different sociohistorical contexts, and produce different consequences for human bodies in everyday life. Using selected popular mass communication texts (including popular scientific documentaries, monster films, and television shows) I explore the metaphors of blood and genes, their effectiveness in the wider popular culture, and their recycling back into the scientific discourse that produced them to consolidate the classification system as fundamental, true, and indeed taken completely for granted. I argue in this study that the shift in classificatory prominence from blood (and with it the fields of virology and immunology) to genes (and with it genomic science and biotechnology) has had profound consequences for the construction, demarcation, and management of difference between and within bodies. In other words, two different systems, deeply embedded in the history and culture of their times, have dictated changing notions of the "normal," the "abnormal," the "freakish," and the "monstrous." This dissertation, representing the fields of cultural studies of science and medicine and popular visual culture, continues a relatively recently developed scholarly examination of scientific discourse as texts and in interaction with culture and history, while arguing that science and scientific discourse are not independent of the culture (including popular culture) that surrounds them.
Issue Date:2006
Description:263 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2006.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3223651
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2006

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