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Biomedicine in museums

Metaphor and simile in representations of genetics in the media

By October 6, 2010No Comments

If I were in Durham (UK) on the 15th of October, I would definitely take the opportunity to hear Andreas Musolff (UEA) speak about “Selfish genes, nasty parasites and helpful stem cells – metaphors in the public perception of genetic research” in the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease’s seminar series. Here’s the abstract:

The paper analyses the role of metaphor and simile in representations of evolution and genetics in British and German popular science and media publications. It focuses on anthro- and sociomorphic imagery used to interpret concepts such as “gene”, “parasite”, and “stem cell”. Such metaphors are often presented as being imbued with scientific authority; furthermore, they are used in public debates about science policy (e.g. on research funding, regulation, ethics). However, these non-expert uses are often influenced by conceptual and discourse traditions that have little to do with scientific definitions or even their mainstream popularized versions but rely on pre-modern and non-scientific source input. In conclusion, we ask which problems this influence of metaphors on the popularized image of genetic research presents for expert/non-expert communication and public debate on research policy.

Could be useful to attend to learn about ways to analyse metaphors in present postgenomic science and how to make sense of them in an exhibition context.

The talk starts at 12 noon at the Wolfson Research Institute’s seminar Room F009 (Queen’s Campus), and there is a lunch buffet.
(from the Mersenne list)

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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