Lectures

Don’t Fight the Future

This article is part of the series:

For the last few years, I’ve been teaching a class called “Human Futures.” I designed it because I was struck by the increasing pessimism among the undergraduates I taught, many of whom expressed deep anxieties about the future. I wanted to provide them with a curriculum that was both realist in its assessment of the threats we collectively …

Books

Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye’s Lissa

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Lissa: A Story About Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution

Written by Sherine Hamdy and Coleman Nye

Illustrated by Sarula Bao and Caroline Brewer

Lettering by Marc Parenteau

University of Toronto Press, 2017. 304 pages.

 

For several years many anthropologists have engaged in questions about the possibilities of a graphic anthropology. “Graphic,” here specifically references comics and graphic narratives and …

Features

Beauty’s Knowledge: Hawthorne’s Moral Fable “Rappaccini’s Daughter”

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a nineteenth-century moral fable that sets the fruits of experimental knowledge against obligations to humanity, and stages a dramatic encounter between these two apparent goods. In many ways, the moral it offers seems familiar, and could be recognized by anyone with even a passing familiarity with contemporary bioethical debates. It features a mad scientist’s …

Features

Reproducing the Speculative: Reproductive Technology, Education, and Science Fiction

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Walter, a Synthetic, quietly makes his rounds in the brightly lit, pristine interior of the Covenant, a Weyland Corporation Spaceship. Fingers pressed to the translucent, impermeable glass, he checks the status of each crew member as they rest in their cryochambers, suspended in chemically-induced comas until they reach their destined planet in seven years and four months’ time. The …

Features

Things Which Have Once Been Conjoined: Science Fiction, Contagion, and Magic in the Age of Social Media

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There are many interesting formations that might be called networked phenomena. Homophily and the tendency towards triad closure. Scott Feld’s Rule (I’m more likely to make friends with someone who has more friends than me). Small world phenomena (those 6 degrees of separation). “The Strength of Weak Ties” (reportedly the most cited sociology paper in history). In all, a series …

Features

Speculation, Certainty and the Diagnostic Illusory: The Tricorder and the Deathless Man

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In the paragraphs which follow, we will be discussing the ways in which two pieces of speculative fiction, the science fiction film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and the novel The Tiger’s Wife use diagnostic and prognostic certainty as part of their creative narratives. In both cases, the confidence vested in the diagnosis and its outcome is contrasted