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Class Notes 11/18/10

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 Class Notes 11/18/10

Anne: Announcements: Veritatemdelixi’s first hyperlink, read the Demon Haunted World for Tuesday, How you should feel about cells isn’t obvious- how does the book organize this argument?

 Ckosarek: Skloot was very sympathetic towards the family. She thinks that you should have a say about where your tissues go.

Aya Seaver: Skloot has to be sympathetic to the family because it’s the only way to get them to talk. It wouldn’t be to her advantage to disagree with them or to correct them.

Anne: She tries to think herself into their (religious) world-view.

SandraG: A side note- the cells are actually stained green so you can see them better.

Anne: Active representation of the cells.

Veritatemdelixi: The dialect threw me off. It took away from message of what the people are saying. It highlighted who the people were- not what they were saying.

Anne: So it highlighted the class gap in any quotation.

 SandraG: The dialect added to the authenticity of the book.

 Aya Seaver: It’s not dialogue anymore. The author uses dialect as a writing device- putting dialect into standard culture creates a different language.

 Anne: What is the solution? How can you accurately render the voices that you are creating and not make it a class/education statement?

 Veritatemdelixi: Dialect constantly reminded me of how uninformed they were about many issues.

 Aya Seaver: Dialect and grammar were just other problems. It didn’t her get into that complicated world.

 FatCatRex: Skloot had to agree to a stringent set of rules to publish- maybe the family wanted to be quoted verbatim.

 Anne: This raises the same question as Fun Home- how do you accurately represent another person’s life. It is hard to accurately represent someone else’s words.

 Veritatemdelixi: Connection between Lack’s lives and her own life. (See posting: /exchange/courses/nonfiction/f10/archive/22)

Wasn’t thinking about own family when reading until the book mentioned the drug that her mother took. This made it more real. Also made her conscious about how lucky she is i.e. stable healthcare – demonstrated social inequalities

 Anne: Did that change your reaction to the novel? Were you grateful that the cells were taken from Henrietta?

 Veritatemdelixi: Actually did change my opinion. I wouldn’t have asked her either if I could have foreseen the good- but that doesn’t mean that I wish harm on her family

 EVD: Just found out that research she’s doing in lab is with HeLa cells. This reinforces feelings about the book that’s it’s just an interesting story about where these cells came from.

 SandraG: Would prefer to use cells instead of chick embryos that need to be extracted- it’s less distressing if you can’t tell it’s a living thing.

Tgarber: Thought that taking Henrietta’s cells without asking was unjust but her mother is living because of the cancer drug.

SandraG: Does the end justify the means?

Veritatemdelixi: Henrietta would have died if they had taken her cells or not.

 SandraG: Not like Tuskegee.

 Anne: Skloot places the taking of her cells in the context of the Tuskegee/ medical mismanagement.

 Aya Seaver: the family feels like Hopkins killed Henrietta.

 Veritatemdelixi: Radiation was the leading cancer treatment- they did the best that they could to help her. This was not really exploitation.

 SandraG: The family didn’t fully understand what they did to Henrietta.

Anne: Does Skloot spend too much time with the angst of the family? Should she spend more time on tissue extraction for research? Too many personal details?

 SandraG: It was compelling but she should have given more scientific data.

 Ckosarek: Didn’t succeed on writing a book on tissue rights- more about humanity issues.

 Kgould: I TA for an intro bio lab- not really science writing- really a biography- a good biography but not science writing.

 SandraG: The book is aboput the family and how the cells have affected the family- not really about the cells.  When you have a personal connection you can see just how important that was. The end justify the means.

Kgould: If the Lacks family had gotten more money things would have been different. But how could people have known that things could have been different.

 Aya Seaver: Has no more information about cells then before she read the book- if scientific learning was the aim she then Skloot failed.

 Maht91: Skloot should not have embedded personal stories into scientific information.

 Anne: How could/should you write a biography of the cells? The book had a compellingness because it was about Henrietta’s life.

 Aya: Napoleon’s Buttons- how compounds have affected history- shows you diagrams of the structure and then goes on to historical and social subjects.

 Tgarber: Not to just written to talk about the cells- also written to preserve Henrietta’s story. Trying to make her life story immortal. Actually learned a bit more about science and about cells.

Anne: The cells were immortal but the memory of Henrietta had basically been erased.

Maht91: So much personal information in any one section- maybe should have been divided better to make clearer to the reader.

Anne: Genres still exist independently but you just have to separate them into genre.

EVD: Written in her own perspective but not be too critical of the family.

Anne: How do you make science accessible to non-science people? How does a fact go to the general public? Lab->write up-> conference-> NYT… Audiences then have their own reactions and ideas. How translatable is science? How well does the book function as a piece of science writing?

Maht91: Interesting facts but the focus was not science.

Veritatemdelixi: The purpose of science is so that it can be implemented- science journals come out so quickly – the book is not science writing because it is a book- too outdated already by the time it’s published.

SandraG: Getting published in a journal is not as quick as it may seem.

Anne: Idea of temporality with science.

“Constrained storytelling” not all stories are equally valid. The goal of science is to make a new world- not describe the world as it is. All scientists would agree- use data to revel something new. Lay ppl would say goal of science to make clearer the world in which we live. We need to be better educated to make decisions as citizens . Science= act of communal construction of new narratives. The sociologist says there is not immaculate perception- you need to have a lens through which to see things.

Kgould: You’re not just socially or just biologically combined- a combination of the two.

Anne: Should FatCatRex feel guilty about reading the book through her own experience? She is naming the frame though which she read the book.

Ckosarek: There is no immaculate perception but you can switch how you view the books- scientific, English etc. You can replace the frame- as close as you can get.

Veritatemdelixi: We all have certain things that bring out our traits.

Anne: Should we not be choosing a major?

TyL: You can’t possibly give all your time and attention to everything. Conization in English- encompasses any other disciplines- reading a history book does not make you a historian.

Veritatemdelixi: Book that says as a culture we are assigning people rules- less important to be multifaceted now.

TyL: You have to be aware that there are alternative perspectives.

EVD: For example a doctor is instructed to looking at his patient in only one way- other ways are not good or dangerous. Looking at her background might not have actually been a new thing.

SandraG: A new program at Columbia- narrative medicine- wrote paper on it. Thinking about the whole person.

Aya Seaver: In western medicine we just focus on fixing the symptoms. As human gained more leisure time- time to make art for reason other then just basic means- specialization- academic is another kind of career specialization. Just of a continuation of this specialization.

Anne: Essay about immaculate perception. Academics are doing things bad for our perception of the world. See Walker Percy quote: /exchange/courses/nonfiction/f10/archive/22

i.e. The creature is lost in the dissection process.

SandraG: The focus of this book is different in a bio class vs an English class. Bio is boring and the book gives it life.

Aya Seaver: Impersonal science vs. personal story of the family

FatCatRex: Interdisciplinary- we read it because we wanted something “sciency” and the bio department reads it to read something in the humanities.

Kgould: So saying the more lenses you use the closer you get to objectivity? Not comfortable with this…

Veritatemdelixi: Movement for everybody to be good at one thing.

TYL: You should explorer but not be chained as one thing.

Anne: This book is also journalism and sociology.  

Veritatemdelixi: Could be used in medical history.

 Anne: About capaciousness of thing we call non-fictional prose- drawer of non-sock- so many things in this book- different ways we could qualify.

 Aya Seaver: Non-fiction is like non socks- fiction is not practically defined- binary system.

 Kgould: No sock drawer at all.

Veritatemdelixi: We need to do laundry…




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