Biomedicine in museums

New web technologies for biomedical self-presentation

By February 26, 2011 No Comments

Like biography, autobiography has always been an important genre for science communication — like Francis Crick’s autobiography What Mad Pursuit (1988).

A couple of decades ago, only a tiny scientific elite had, in practice, access to present themselves autobiographically in the form of book-length memoirs and interviews in newspaper and magazines.

Science communication through self-presentation was thus largely restricted to famous life scientists, medical doctors and their famous patients.

Now, thanks to the web, and especially social web technologies, public self-presentation has become an opportunity for the global biotechnoscientific multitude.

Medical and nursing students, life science PhD students, and all kinds of ordinary patients are blogging, facebooking and twittering accounts of themselves in dialy work in labs and clinics or their experiences of being medicalised.

No doubt, these new practices of communication and self-presentation are contribution to changing public understandings of biomedical culture and its place in culture at large.

This conference promises to inspire to more thinking along these lines.

Patrick Crowley, Kerstin Fest, Rachel MagShamhráin and Laura Rascaroli at the University College Cork are inviting papers about new media, film and “new theoretical approaches to autobiography post-Lejeune“, as they put it, for a conference titled ‘Technologies of the Self: New Departures in Self-Inscription’, which they are organising 2-3 September in Cork, Ireland.

In an era in which self-expression has undergone an exponential growth fuelled by technological innovation, most importantly, perhaps, the creation of an internet that hosts an ever-increasing number of blogs, tweets, personal webpages and other forms of audiovisual self-expression such as YouTube, it seems timely to think again about the phenomenon of writing, filming, recording and, indeed, publishing or publicizing the self: what innovations in self inscription have recent decades witnessed, what continuities and discontinuities can be traced, what changes in attitudes to the self and to self-revelation or exposure have been witnessed, how have developments in the channels of broadcasting altered how, what and why we engage in various, if always elusive acts of self-expression, are there now new practitioners of self-inscription because of these changes, and, finally, with so many outlets and such a market for narratives of self, how is such material consumed?

The organisers particularly welcome 250-300 words abtracts on the following themes:

– new theories of autobiography: thinking beyond Lejeune
– technologies and self-inscription: the Internet and new media innovations
– the avant-garde: experimentation and the changing boundaries of the self
– on-line writing and freedom of expression: the blogosphere as political third space
– auto-ethnographies: new ways of recording the self in its sociocultural context
– issues of veridicality
– consuming selves: the appetite for self expression
etc

Send abstract proposals to self.inscription@gmail.com, before 4 April. And please consult the conference website, http://www.ucc.ie/en/german/events/selfinscription.

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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