Thesis ID: CBB001561912

Nanovision: Engineering the Future (2005)


Milburn, Colin Nazhone (Author)

Harvard University
Biagioli, Mario
Greenblatt, Stephen
Mendelsohn, Everett
Rowland, Ann Weirda

Publication Date: 2005
Edition Details: Advisors: Biagioli, Mario; Stephen Greenblatt; Everett Mendelsohn; Ann Weirda Rowland
Physical Details: 399 pp.
Language: English

This dissertation examines the emergence of nanotechnology in scientific and popular culture from the perspective of its rhetorical and textual practices. It argues that the monumental historical consequences of nanotechnology prophesied by nanoscientists are being enacted at a semiotic level well in advance of technical capabilities. Scientific, literary, and visual objects from the field of nanotechnology are analyzed in order to document the rise of a new way of seeing, a new conceptual orientation to the world called "nanovision." The dissertation claims that nanovision participates in the deconstruction of the humanist subject and the invention of a posthuman future. The opening chapter, "Nanotechnology in the Age of Posthuman Engineering: Science Fiction as Science," looks at the volatile terminology of "real science" versus "science fiction" widely used in debates over the epistemic status of nanotechnology. It argues that this rhetorical dichotomy invariably collapses and that nanotechnology should instead be recognized as a hyperreal "science (fiction)." Chapter 2, "Small Worlds: Beyond the Limits of Fabrication," shows how the history of nanotechnology has been characterized by an irreducible double-vision of specularity and speculation, where "seeing" the future is a media-specific effect of "seeing" the nanoscale. Chapter 3, "The Horrors of Goo: Molecular Abjection and the Domestication of Nanotechnology," looks at the imagination of disaster in nanodisourse. Nanoscience works to secure its future by diminishing public perceptions of risk, and to this end adopts a highly gendered rhetoric that fits nanoresearch within reassuring humanist schemas of masculinity and femininity, depicting nanoscience as a field of absolute and rigid control over a fluid molecular materiality. Chapter 4, "Nano/Splatter: Disintegrating the Postbiological Body," examines the convergence of nanotechnology with biotechnology to show that in the field of "nanobiology," the biological and the machinic have become so enmeshed, the molecular has ascended in epistemic prominence to such an extent, that nanovison sees not only a closure of the human but also a closure of the biological realm as such. The writings, rhetorics and visualization strategies of nanoscience thus altogether recondition the world to enable the many radical transformations heralded by the prophesies of nanovision.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 66/05 (2005): 1931. UMI pub. no. 3173983.

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Authors & Contributors
Schummer, Joachim
Baird, Davis
Pandey, Poonam
Gisle Solbu
Bruchez, Marcel
Heidrun Åm
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Spontaneous Generations
Social Studies of Science
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Minerva: A Review of Science, Learning and Policy
Virginia Polytechnic Institute
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Springer Science + Business Media
Rice University
Praeger Publishers
Harvard University Press
Philosophy of technology
Technology and ethics
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)

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