Beyond the gene roundtable discussion

Bloomfield, Mandy, Garratt, Peter, Mackay, Deborah J.G., Richardson, Angelique, Spector, Tim and Temple, Karen (2015) Beyond the gene roundtable discussion. Textual Practice, 29 (3). pp. 415-432. ISSN 0950-236X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2015.1020094

Abstract

This virtual discussion between biomedical researchers and academics in the literary humanities took place in June–July 2013, through the medium of blog and email. The participants are Tim Spector (Genetic Epidemiology), Karen Temple (Medical Genetics), Angelique Richardson (Literary Studies), Deborah J.G. Mackay (Human Genetics) and Peter Garratt (Literary Studies). The conversation was initiated and convened by Mandy Bloomfield (Literary Studies). What develops in the course of the discussion is a sense of the ways in which biomedical researchers working on genetics are discovering new complexities with profound cultural and philosophical implications, whilst those working in the humanities are considering what those implications might be, but from a position on the edges of specialist scientific knowledge and modes of thinking. Perhaps inevitably, we sometimes find we are not speaking quite the same language. And this question of language – of metaphors, varieties of meaning, precision and indeterminacy – crops up time and again in this discussion. Perhaps it is in these frictive edges between disciplines that productive dialogue can happen, and we can learn from the differences between perspectives. For example, in this discussion the ‘nurture–nature’ dichotomy is interrogated in different ways, but with equivalent levels of reflective rigour, by researchers in the biomedical and humanities disciplines alike. What do we really mean by those terms? What are the historical components of this conceptual divide? Is it even possible to separate ‘nurture’ from ‘nature’? If a consensus emerges from this discussion, it is that current research in both the sciences and the humanities is blurring the distinctions between such dichotomous constructions as ‘nature vs. nurture’ in ways that are changing thinking and practices across the disciplines. Whether this takes us to a revaluation of Victorian understandings of organism and environment, or into ever-more complicated relationships between medical practitioners and their patients, we are, as one participant puts it, ‘in for an interesting time'.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
R900 Others in European Languages, Literature and related subjects
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 27 May 2015 10:39
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 12:55
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/22617

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