Welcome to English 243, “Genetics in Literature and Film,” an undergraduate course at Vanderbilt University. 
MWF 10:10-11:00
The revolution in contemporary genetics has generated enormous media attention on topics such as Dolly the cloned sheep; newly discovered genes for breast-cancer, homosexuality, and long life; ecological and religious protests against gene tampering; controversies about evolution; insurance problems arising from genetic screening; the patenting of genes; DNA forensic evidence in criminal cases and paternity suits; the prospect of cloning a wooly mammoth; and eco-terrorism over genetically modified food.

In this course we explore novels, films, and popular cultural texts that attempt to come to terms with these intriguing issues.  These texts will come from a number of different genres, including postmodern novels, science fiction movies and novels, advertising, and critical essays on contemporary science, evolution, and medicine.

No expertise in genetics, biology, or evolutionary theory is required.  Students will be introduced to the basic concepts of genetics and evolution through science writing by people such as Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, and James Watson, and, as well as in accessible works by some of the pioneers of the new genetics. Novels will include Andrea Barrett’s Ship Fever, Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Simon Mawer’s Mendel’s Dwarf, Zadi Smith’s White Teeth, and H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau.

~ by Jay Clayton on January 9, 2008.

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