The Culture and Communication Graduate Committee at the University of Melbourne continue this year’s Friday Seminar Series of graduate presentations on Friday 15th March, starting at 4pm in Room 106 of the John Medley Building. Staff and graduate students are welcome. The details of the talks are as follows:
Title: ‘Eugenics and Apocalypse: Dystopia and Utopia in Octavia Butler’s Clay’s Ark‘ by Andrew Schapper
Date: Friday 15 March, 4pm
Location: Room 106, John Medley Building, West Tower, University of Melbourne, Parkville
Abstract: In this paper, I analyze how Octavia Butler reinterprets pandemic illness as a means to reveal the tension between utopian and dystopian eugenics. I focus specifically on her 1984 novel Clay’s Ark. The novel’s dystopian characterization of sickness gives way to a hidden utopian goal of human evolution that is contingent on the erasure of biological difference. In contrast to other popular stories of pandemic diseases, where human agency prevails in overcoming illness, Butler presents a new direction of evolution resulting from the spread of a contagious disease. It is my contention that Butler presents illness as a complex textual symbol of eugenics where racial utopia is reliant on the eradication of biological difference.
Biography: I am undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne in English Literature. My thesis is titled: ‘Eugenics, Genetic Determinism, and the Eradication of the ‘Other’ in the Science Fiction of Octavia E. Butler.
Also note: the School of Culture and Communications in now keeping a page on existing reading groups run by students and staff in the School. The reading groups are not officially affiliated with the School or the University and their membership is, in general, open. Please email coordinators for details.