Author Archives: smeelewm

Epigenetics and Blaming Mothers: Working with Dr. Amy Non

Before this semester began, I harbored a secret interest in genetics and environmental heredity, an interest that I kept hidden from my work in English because it seemed so disconnected. But this has rapidly been changing. During this semester I have h… Continue reading

Posted in biopolitics | Comments Off on Epigenetics and Blaming Mothers: Working with Dr. Amy Non

Creating Nanoworlds: Fear and Technology in Spin

Perusing a robotics installation at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA this weekend, I came across a display on RoboBees. These fascinating micro-robots are technological replacements for diminishing honeybee colonies, created to supplement our most i… Continue reading

Posted in Boston Museum of Science, Charles Wilson, Hypotheticals, nanobots, nanoculture, RoboBees, Science Fiction, Spin, technoscience, von Neumann ecology | Comments Off on Creating Nanoworlds: Fear and Technology in Spin

Music from the Genome: Cloud Atlas as Biological Symphony

Describing his composition of Cloud Atlas Sextet to his friend Sixsmith, Robert Frobisher writes, “Boundaries between noise and sound are conventions…. All boundaries are conventions…. One may transcend any convention” (Mitchell 460). It is thi… Continue reading

Posted in Allele, Biological Symphony, Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, DNA, Michael Zev Gordon, Mitchell, David, music, Music from the Genome | Comments Off on Music from the Genome: Cloud Atlas as Biological Symphony

Evolving the Human Successor: Imperfect Perfection in Oryx and Crake

“These are floor models. They represent the art of the possible,” explains Crake to a skeptical Jimmy as Jimmy is introduced to the life-blood of the Paradice Project (Atwood 305). The Crakers are human-animal splices that have been created by Crak… Continue reading

Posted in adaptation, Atwood, Atwood, Margaret, Darwin, evolution, Idol, Margaret Atwood, Religion, Science Fiction, violence | Comments Off on Evolving the Human Successor: Imperfect Perfection in Oryx and Crake

“Typing” in the 21st Century: Creating a Composite Type through Online Dating

The aim of Sir Francis Galton’s compost portraiture, outlined in his 1897 essay “Composite Portraits,” was to find “the portrait of a type and not of an individual”—to discover, by the means of superimposing portraits of multiple individual… Continue reading

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Evolutionary Hunger Games: Reading Darwin in the Twenty-First Century

As a Victorianist with a primary interest in the natural sciences and a secondary interest in contemporary speculative fiction, my research and thinking is constantly plagued by the question: how can we use Darwin today? Darwin’s influence on the Vic… Continue reading

Posted in adaptation, Atwood, Margaret, charles darwin, Darwin, evolution, George Levine, Gillian Beer, Hunger Games, Science Fiction, Struggle for Existence, Suzanne Collins, technoscience, Variation | Comments Off on Evolutionary Hunger Games: Reading Darwin in the Twenty-First Century

Cholera and Miasma: Technological Progress and Medical Backwardness

In science fiction, cyberpunk, and speculative fiction, technology is often presented as an answer to social problems; we like to think of it as manna delivered from the heavens by an unseen hand to feed a people hungry for progress. However, William G… Continue reading

Posted in 19th Century, Bruce Sterling, Cholera, Florence Nightingale, Germ Theory of Disease, History of Medicine, history of science, London, Miasma, microbiology, Science Fiction, technological progress, The Difference Engine, The Great Stink, William Gibson | Comments Off on Cholera and Miasma: Technological Progress and Medical Backwardness

Is It Really Alive? and other questions about electricity

We are all familiar with the swelling exclamation “It’s alive, it’s alive” spoken by Colin Clive in his famous 1931 depiction of Frankenstein, directed by James Whale. This scene has been so deeply drilled into our cultural psyc… Continue reading

Posted in creature, electricity, Frankenstein, Frankenstein electrocuted, lightening, Science Fiction, Shelley, Mary, technoscience, Victor Frankenstein | Comments Off on Is It Really Alive? and other questions about electricity