Tuesday, 9 October 2007, 14:00-16:00
Christina Brandt (Max Planck Institute of the History of Science, Berlin) will discuss fictional imaginations and literary representations of the figure of the clone (late 1960s to early 1980s) from a history of science perspective.
For the abstract, see here:
Between Fact and Fiction: Representations of the “Clone”
In this paper, I will explore fictional imaginations of cloning and literary representations of the figure of the clone from a history of science perspective. The paper analyzes novels and narrations from the 1970s, a period in which the first debates about cloning occurred both within science as well as in the popular realm. This period also witnessed the first boom of science fiction novels about cloning. The primary question concerns the function of these literary representations of cloning scenarios within public and scientific debates. What images and scenarios did these novels present? How can we describe the relationship between the scientific and literary discourses on cloning between the late 1960s and the early 1980s?
In the first part of the paper I will outline some different layers in the history of cloning, concerning mainly the history of the scientific concept and its relation to scientific practices throughout the 20th century. In the second part I will analyze some novels in more detail. My argument will be twofold: First, I will show that the 1970s science fiction novels were the driving forces behind the popularization of the concept of a “clone”, which up until the 1960s was a term used mainly within the space of bioscientific research and only in a narrow sense. Furthermore, as the realm of literary imaginations was the main place in which an ethical examination of cloning and its consequences for our understanding of central categories such as the “human” or “identity” took place, one can argue that the 1970s novels had a function similar to that which institutionalized bioethics later on had.