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Genomes, gender and the psychodynamics of a scientific crisis: a psychoanalytic reading of Michael Crichton's genomics novels

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Michael Crichton (1942–2008) was a prolific writer of “science novels”, portraying the psychodynamics and sociodynamics of genomics and other NBIC (Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information technology and Cognitive science) fields, fostering critical reflection on their societal dimensions. Science novels may serve as “literary experiments”, as windows into the (future) impacts of current research. Although on the surface level Crichton's books may be seen as entertaining bestsellers, an in-depth reading allows them to emerge as exploratory exercises, usable as course material for science students. To open up this “deeper” dimension, I read Crichton's work from a psychoanalytic angle, focusing on typical scenes and themes, such as the idea of a scientific crisis, geneticization and gender role reversal. The core question of a typical Crichton novel usually is: what will happen when a new laboratory research field suddenly comes out into the open? Notably, the gender dimension reflects and exemplifies the fascinations and concerns with contemporary technoscience addressed by him.
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Keywords: Jurassic Park; Michael Crichton; genomics; psychoanalysis; science and gender; science novels; scientific crisis; scientific revolution

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Science, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Publication date: January 2, 2015

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