Welcome to English 243, Literature, Science, and Technology, taught by Professor Jay Clayton at Vanderbilt University. The topic for this semester is “Literature, Bioethics, and Public Policy: Issues in Evolution and Genetics”
Course description: How does literature, film, and the internet shape public policy toward science and technology? In this course we explore literature’s impact on a crucial dimension of our lives through a focus on issues raised by biotechnology, particularly in the realm of genetics—cloning, genetic engineering, biological determinism, and the controversies surrounding evolution.
No expertise in genetics is required. Readings by Charles Darwin, James Watson, and contemporary bioethics will introduce key concepts and debates, which are illuminated and challenged by the novels and films we will discuss: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Andrew Niccol’s Gattaca, and H. G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Students should purchase the following texts, either on the internet or at the Vanderbilt Bookstore:
- Optional: H. G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) – available free on the internet
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)
- James D. Watson’s The Double Helix (1968)
- Andrea Barrett, Ship Fever (1996)
- Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003)
- Ruth Ozeki, All Over Creation (2003)
- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (2004)
- Kazua Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005)
- Ian McEwan’s Saturday (2005)
- Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)
All other readings will be available free of charge on the internet or in OAK.