Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs on 2020-02-20 22:46Z by Steven

Biofictions: Race, Genetics and the Contemporary Novel

224 pages
Hardback ISBN: 9781350099838
EPUB eBook ISBN: 9781350099852
PDF eBook ISBN: 9781350099845

Josie Gill, Lecturer in Black British Writing
University of Bristol, United Kingdom

In this important interdisciplinary study, Josie Gill explores how the contemporary novel has drawn upon, and intervened in, debates about race in late 20th and 21st century genetic science. Reading works by leading contemporary writers including Zadie Smith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Octavia Butler and Colson Whitehead, Biofictions demonstrates how ideas of race are produced at the intersection of science and fiction, which together create the stories about identity, racism, ancestry and kinship which characterize our understanding of race today. By highlighting the role of narrative in the formation of racial ideas in science, this book calls into question the apparent anti-racism of contemporary genetics, which functions narratively, rather than factually or objectively, within the racialized contexts in which it is embedded. In so doing, Biofictions compels us to rethink the long-asked question of whether race is a biological fact or a fiction, calling instead for a new understanding of the relationship between race, science and fiction.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Roots of African Eve: Science Writing on Human Origins and Alex Haley’s Roots
  • 2. Race, Genetic Ancestry Tracing and Facial Expression: “Focusing on the Faces” in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go
  • 3. “One Part Truth and Three Parts Fiction”: Race, Science and Narrative in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth
  • 4. “The Sick Swollen Heart of This Land”: Pharmacogenomics, Racial Medicine and Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt
  • 5. Mutilation and Mutation: Epigenetics and Racist Environments in Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Tags: , , , , , ,

Signifying the tragic mulatto: A semiotic analysis of Alex Haley’s Queen

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Slavery on 2011-11-01 00:55Z by Steven

Signifying the tragic mulatto: A semiotic analysis of Alex Haley’s Queen

Howard Journal of Communications
Volume 7, Issue 2 (1996)
pages 113-126
DOI: 10.1080/10646179609361718

Mark P. Orbe

Karen E. Strother

Employing a semiotic framework, this article explores the signification process of the lead character in Alex Haley’s Queen. This popular miniseries is significant because a bi‐ethnic person is the focal point of its storyline. However, instead of transcending the traditional stereotypes associated with bi‐ethnicity, the program does little more than portray Queen as a “tragic mulatto.”; Specifically, three signifiers are discussed: bi‐ethnicity as (a) beautiful, yet threatening, (b) inherently problematic, and (c) leading to insanity.

For three days in mid-February 1993, millions of television viewers watched Alex Haley’s Queen, the epic miniseries that follows the life of a woman born in the 1840s of a European master and an enslaved African (Fein, 1993). Promoted as the third and final project featuring the story of Alex Haley’s multi- generational family, Alex Haley’s Queen extends his earlier docudramas. Roots and Roots: The Next Generation (Zoglin, 1993). Described as “Big Event television” (Goldberg, 1993), the miniseries was lauded as compelling and “of uncommon passion and substance” (O’Connor, 1993, p. C34). Each of the three two-hour segments of Queen was rated among Nielsen’s top ten television programs for the week, and the epic garnered an Emmy nomination for best miniseries.

As with Haley’s earlier works, some controversy arose regarding the accuracy…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,