Thesis ID: CBB001567466

Laboratory Literature: Science and Fiction in the Place of Production (2013)


Hadley, Matthew James (Author)

University of Minnesota
Rabinowitz, Paula
Mowitt, John
Pepper, Thomas
Rabinowitz, Paula
Casarino, Cesare
Mowitt, John
Pepper, Thomas

Publication Date: 2013
Edition Details: Advisor: Casarino, Cesare; Committee Members: Mowitt, John, Pepper, Thomas, Rabinowitz, Paula.
Physical Details: 268 pp.
Language: English

In this dissertation, I claim that the figure of the scientific laboratory in literature serves as a means for the literary text to reflect upon its own conditions of possibility, its processes of production, and its socio-cultural functions, all of which enact an autocritique of literature by literature. In representing production within the scientific laboratory, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (chapter one) and H. G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau (chapter two) demonstrate how this space of scientific labor is a model for the space of literary production. Following out the claim that an isomorphism exists between these two spaces, I offer new insights into the processes and effects of literary inscription. With this focus on literary production, I read these literary texts from the perspective of the material and affective processes that constitute a literary object rather than from a point of view on the finalized product alone. I argue that the novel itself becomes a laboratory, a space of experimentation in and through which one enacts and reenacts the myriad living processes associated with literary discourse. In my third chapter, I further elaborate this perspective through a reading of bodies and social groups in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy that take on the qualities of scientific or literary laboratories, and often both at once. I specifically pay attention to Butler's use of genetics and genetic engineering in both the content and formal characteristics of her novels. Here, I take the laboratory as a concept for thinking through both literary labor, as well as the function of speculative fictions and utopian thought in the biotech industry and the life sciences. Finally, my fourth and final chapter considers the function of the laboratory as a social apparatus for the production of discourse on life in Ridley Scott's film Prometheus. As in the previous chapters, the laboratory is here a site in and through which the work's conditions of possibility are made visible, enabling the film to critique the roles of marketing and finance in contemporary laboratory practices that come to blur the line between the fictional and the scientific in the era of biocapital.


Description Cited in Dissertation Abstracts International-A 75/04(E), Oct 2014. Proquest Document ID: 1490583584.

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Authors & Contributors
Page, Michael R.
Sibum, H. Otto
Todes, Daniel P.
Sleigh, Charlotte
Meyer, Jürgen
Hitchcock, Susan Tyler
Journal of the History of Ideas
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society
Korean Journal of Medical History
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
Nineteenth-Century Contexts
History and Technology
W. W. Norton & Co.
Palgrave Macmillan
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Rutgers University Press
Science fiction
Science and literature
Laboratory notebooks
Science and culture
Wells, Herbert George
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
Kingsley, Charles
Darwin, Erasmus
Joule, James Prescott
Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich
Great Britain
United Kingdom
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
21st century
20th century, late
18th century

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