Monday, October 24, 2011

Worlding Begins....


Sowing Worlds:  a Seed Bag for Terraforming with Earth Others
by Donna Haraway, Spring 2010

“Do you realize, the phytolinguist will say to the aesthetic critic, “that they couldn’t even read Eggplant?”  And they will smile at our ignorance, as they pick up their rucksacks and hike on up to read the newly deciphered lyrics of the lichen on the north face of Pike’s Peak.”
Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Author of the Acacia Seeds,” ©1974


Tuesday 25 Oct – "SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far"
• Merrick, chap 7 on feminisms and science 
• find out everything you can on the Web about Donna Haraway. Bring stuff in to share.
• Haraway, Pilgrim Award, watch online and read too: url: 
Why is Haraway getting this award? What does that mean about SF feminisms? Who is she anyway and why does she matter?

Thursday 27 Oct – No More Nature VERSUS Nurture: Why?

• Haraway, “Sowing Worlds.” To be emailed to you in manuscript. EMAIL KATIE IF YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED IT BY MONDAY!
• Find out everything you can about the nature/nurture debates on the Web. Can you find anything that shows what might be wrong with pitting them against each other? Bring that in to share.
Over and over one hears the opposition nature vs. nurture in popular press, media, even in school. What’s wrong with it? Why would feminists care?

• your favorite passages on worlding from Haraway's "Sowing Worlds" and the Pilgrim lecture.
• what did you find out about nature vs. nurture on the web?
• what science issues might you bring to bear on your worlding project for Whileaway? groups.

biological determinism from the Wikipedia:

"In terms of the nature versus nurture debate, biological determinism is approximately analogous to the "nature" argument, and social determinism is similar to the "nurture" view-point. However, the tendency to see biological determinism and social determinism as polar opposites is rather misleading. Indeed, the two theories are similar in that they postulate that behaviour is, at least to some extent, pre-determined. In this sense the opposite of the biological and social determinism theories, could be said to be that of randomness i.e. the theory that there are no factors which influence behaviour (c.f. free will). The key difference between the theories of biological and social determinism lies in their appraisal of the extent to which a variety of factors may influence behaviour."

Nature vs. Nurture from the Wikipedia:

"When traits are determined by a complex interaction of genotype and environment it is possible to measure the heritability of a trait within a population. However, many non-scientists who encounter a report of a trait having a certain percentage heritability imagine non-interactional, additive contributions of genes and environment to the trait. As an analogy, some laypeople may think of the degree of a trait being made up of two "buckets," genes and environment, each able to hold a certain capacity of the trait. But even for intermediate heritabilities, a trait is always shaped by both genetic dispositions and the environments in which people develop, merely with greater and lesser plasticities associated with these heritability measures."

Epigenetics from the Wikipedia:

"The molecular basis of epigenetics is complex. It involves modifications of the activation of certain genes, but not the basic structure of DNA. Additionally, the chromatin proteins associated with DNA may be activated or silenced. This accounts for why the differentiated cells in a multi-cellular organism express only the genes that are necessary for their own activity. Epigenetic changes are preserved when cells divide. Most epigenetic changes only occur within the course of one individual organism's lifetime, but, if a mutation in the DNA has been caused in sperm or egg cell that results in fertilization, then some epigenetic changes are inherited from one generation to the next.[10] This raises the question of whether or not epigenetic changes in an organism can alter the basic structure of its DNA (see Evolution, below), a form of Lamarckism.

"Specific epigenetic processes include paramutation, bookmarking, imprinting, gene silencing, X chromosome inactivation, position effect, reprogramming, transvection, maternal effects, the progress of carcinogenesis, many effects of teratogens, regulation of histone modifications and heterochromatin, and technical limitations affecting parthenogenesis and cloning."

uncoiling chromatin, epigenetic mechanisms, high school activity handout   

naturecultures and Haraway:
"I want the readers to find an “elsewhere” from which to envision a different and less hostile order of relationships among people, animals, technologies, and land … I also want to set new terms for the traffic between what we have come to know historically as nature and culture. (Haraway, Primate Visions 1989: 15)"

and other's feminist science studies

Schiebinger's Nature's body (Rutgers 2004)
"Eighteenth-century natural historians created a peculiar, and peculiarly durable, vision of nature - one that embodied the sexual and racial tensions of that era. When plants were found to reproduce sexually, eighteenth-century botanists ascribed to them passionate relations, polyandrous marriages, and suicidal incest, and accounts of steamy plant sex began to infiltrate the botanical literature of the day. Naturalists also turned their attention to the great apes just becoming known to eighteenth-century Europeans, clothing the females in silk vestments and training them to sip tea with the modest demeanor of English matrons, while imagining the males of the species fully capable of ravishing women."

Goodman, Heath, Lindee, Genetic nature/culture: anthropology and science beyond the two-culture divide (California 2003) 

"The result is an entree to the complicated nexus of questions prompted by the power and importance of genetics and genetic thinking, and the dynamic connections linking culture, biology, nature, and technoscience. The volume offers critical perspectives on science and culture, with contributions that span disciplinary divisions and arguments grounded in both biological perspectives and cultural analysis. An invaluable resource and a provocative introduction to new research and thinking on the uses and study of genetics, Genetic Nature/Culture is a model of fruitful dialogue, presenting the quandaries faced by scholars on both sides of the two-cultures debate." 


Tuesday 1 Nov & Thursday 3 Nov: Worlding Sciences  
  • Katie is at the Society for the Social Studies of Science talking about SF feminisms and theory!
While Katie is away participating in professional SF feminisms, the class will continue to meet without her. Two facilitators (to be decided upon) will oversee the class, which will meet in groups, working on science issues for the course, sharing web research on those and worldings, and finishing up the rest of the collection Dreaming

Katie's talksite online here: you can see it under construction:  

Description of conference:
Panel • Tracing Technoscientific Imaginaries through Contemporary Culture
Session Participants:
• Joan Haran (Cardiff University) Half Life: Re-Imagining Our Past-Presents
• Maureen McNeil (Lancaster University) Writing Lives in and through Genomics
• Sherryl Vint (Brock University) Biopolitics and Body Markets: Daybreakers and Repo Men
• Marina Levina (University of Memphis) “And Man Made Life”: Synthetic Organisms and Monstrous Imaginaries
• Katie King (University of Maryland, College Park) Queer Transdisciplinarities


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