Call for Papers – Génétique et Culture Française

International Conference: Institute for Germanic and Romance Studies, London, Thurs 2 – Fri 3 July 2009.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Jacques Testart, Honorary Research Director of I.N.S.E.R.M;Fay Brauer, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales.

Difference, whether between individuals, whole populations or discrete organic species, has always been a source of fascination for mankind. The works of nineteenth-century pioneers such as Gregor Mendel and Hugo de Vries provided the basis for the modern science of genetics, which has sought not only to explain variation through projects such as the mapping of the human genome, but also to control it through the application of the techniques of eugenics and, latterly, of genetic engineering. This conference will aim to explore the impact and influence of genetic theories and related technologies in French and francophone intellectual and cultural life, with particular though not exclusive emphasis on literary and visual culture (including bande dessinée, plastic arts, cinema, TV, advertising) from the late nineteenth century to the present day, reflecting on some of the most controversial scientific and ethical questions in a corpus that embraces both the mainstream and the marginal. Suggested themes may include, but are not limited to:
· Transmission of hereditary illnesses / traits
· Cloning
· Hybridisation
· The creation of new species
· Mutants and mutation
· Teratology / dysmorphology
· Perfecting the individual / species
· Eugenics – public / private
· Genetic engineering and designer babies
· Biological utopias / dystopias
· Doctor / scientist as creator / author
· French philosophers and cultural historians and the life sciences (e.g. Henri Bergson, Georges Canguilhem, Michel Foucault)
· French genetic scientists and their engagement with culture (e.g. Jean Rostand, François Jacob, Jacques Testart)
· DNA technologies and theories of identity

The above list is in no way intended to be exhaustive, and proposals on the conference theme are invited in English or in French. Comparative perspectives are welcomed, though emphasis should be on the study of French-language sources.

Proposals (300 words maximum) for 20-minute papers should be sent to the conference organisers, Dr Douglas Morrey ( and Dr Louise Lyle ( ) by 31 January 2009.