Research AREAS

Petri Dish
Technology and Reproduction / Bioscience and Assisted Reproduction in the Medical Humanities. Special focus on donor conception.
Human Condition, Posthuman, Digital Spaces, and AGI

This research started in October 2020 through the ISSF/Wellcome funded project ‘Cyborg Conception’. This project questioned how far does the technologizing of reproduction shape posthuman discourses in contemporary literature and culture and, conversely, in what ways are new family formations made possible by the literary and cultural imagination as much as by assisted reproductive technologies?

This project explores how assisted reproduction is narrativized in contemporary culture and how the technologizing of reproduction has shaped posthuman discourse since the first successful human IVF pregnancy in 1978. This project saw the completion of two journal articles on solo motherhood by choice.  

Broadly, my research into assisted reproduction involves three main areas. The first concerns how fertility is articulated to children and young people; for example, the educational importance for public understandings of fertility health and the social and emotional wellbeing of children conceived through technological intervention. The second genre is life writing; an important strand is graphic novels which finds a natural companion in infographics used by medical professionals and businesses to convey complex fertility issues/options to patients. The third is how fiction after 1978 perpetuates or helps demystify ethical anxieties surrounding donor conception. 

 

In 2022, I was awarded a second ISSF/Wellcome grant to produce a booklet for fertility clinics across the UK on solo motherhood by choice. Opportunities to participate here

Publications see:

  • 'Fatherlessness, sperm donors and ‘so what?’ parentage: arguing against the immorality of donor conception through ‘world literature’, Medical Humanities, 25 April 2022. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2021-012328 (part of the ISSF/Wellcome Cyborg Conception funded project)

  • ''Plan A''. Donor Conception Network Journal, 25 (2021), pp. 13-14 https://www.dcnetwork.org/sites/dcnetwork.org/files/DCN%20Journal%2025%20Winter%202021.pdf

  • Forthcoming: 'Writing Cyborg Conception: Solo Mothers By Choice In Contemporary Fiction on the "Single Mother" TBA 2022 (part of the ISSF/Wellcome Cyborg Conception funded project)

I have explored ideas of the human condition from early Greek philosophy up to Hannah Arendt's definition of the Human Condition to concepts of the Cyborg, Transhuman and Posthuman. From how we will define the human legally in the future, to ideas of immortality, I've published and lectured on a wide range of issues surrounding the pivotal question 'what does it mean to be human?' Specifically, I examine how the human condition has been affected by technological developments. I am not only interested in evolving human infrastructure but also in how global and networked communities complicate and recalibrate ideas of geography, nation, and identity. By examining the ambition in transhumanist thought for mind-uploading into advanced ‘shells’, I also work on disability studies and body dissociation through mind ‘ascension’ and disembodied existence. Reflecting on Arendt’s claim that to migrate from the planet and physical experience would rewire the human condition, I think through the complex issues of identity, exile, dispersal, and digital migrancy that emerge from reducing self and community to data.

Publications see:

  • Forthcoming: Contemporary Posthumanism: Transcending the Human in Contemporary Posthuman Literature, Media, and Culture (TBA)  (on hold due to maternity leave and ISSF project)

  • 'British Science Fiction 1990s-2010: Technology and Society', Blackwell/Wiley Encyclopedia of Contemporary British and  Irish Literature, ed. by Richard Bradford (Blackwell/Wiley, 2020)

  • 'Cyberpunk Photography and Art', The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture, ed. by Graham J. Murphy et al (Routledge, 2019)

  • ​‘Growing up in the 21st Century: Pretty Little Liars and their Pretty Little Devices’, in Girl Talk:  The Influence of Girls’ Series Books on American Popular Culture, ed. by LuElla D’Amico (New York: Lexington Books, 2016).

 

War/Genocide/Apocalypse
Nuclear Technology

I have conducted research into the development of nuclear technology in the 20th Century. Alongside examining how nuclear weaponry significantly impacted 20th Century life, I have also researched nuclear power itself. As a cultural historian, I have investigated how society (mostly focused on UK, America, Japan, and Russia etc) has reacted to nuclear developments and have spoken at length about nuclear 'ambivalence' during the Cold War years. I have conducted a great deal of research on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and accidents including Windscale, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three Mile Island.

Publications see:

  • Three Mile Island: The Meltdown Crisis and Nuclear Power in American Popular Culture (Routledge, 2017). Flyer here . Order here: Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk

  • 'We All Fall Down: Nuclear Families and Post-Nuclear Worlds', Berlinale Film Festival (2022)

 

Most of my research involves World War II. I have conducted a lot of research on Primo Levi, a chemist deported to Auschwitz in 1944, who wrote about his experience of the Holocaust. In my work I have investigated the psychology behind genocidal activities through the lens of psychological doubling (heavily influenced by the work of Robert J. Lifton). To date, much of my work on apocalypse surrounds ideas of technological apocalypse. Along this vein, I have also completed research on ruination (from derelict buildings to explosion debris) and explored how ruins help us to imagine future apocalyptic landscapes. With specific expertise as a war scholar I am further concerned with how selfhood and community are disrupted and displaced through conflict, technologies of war, and crises. I also investigate the impact of evacuation on communities, the aesthetics and politics of abandoned spaces, and new structures for ‘artificial’ living (such as subterranean shelters).

Publications see:

Concerning Evil, ed. by Grace Halden and Gabriela Madlo (Oxford: IDP, 2013).