Fall 2008 – Spring 2009

Conversations @ 34: DNA and Identity

A Forum Discussion: Interdisciplinarity in the Humanities

2009 DNA and Identity

In the wake of deconstructing the self on the one hand and mapping its genetic code on the other, what is changing in how we think about identity? Do we want to free ourselves from our identities, with their personal and social scripts tied to gender, race, class and occupation? Or do we want to more predictably trace our own identities, rooting them in genealogy and biology? How have the new ways to map identity changed our thinking about such fundamental concepts as citizenship, community, personality, privacy, inheritance, diversity, and risk? Who determines the social value of this new information and decides what is – and what is not – in the public interest?

On April 28th, 2009, the Humanities Center and Conversations @ 34 sponsored a discussion on DNA and Identity.

Watch the videos below, and submit your comments to the Humanities Center:

Opening Remarks by Carla Kaplan
Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature at Northeastern University, is the founding director of the Humanities Center. Her forthcoming books include Miss Anne in Harlem: the White Women of the Black Renaissance and Queen of the Muckrakers: the Life of Jessica Mitford, both with HarperCollins. Watch Kaplan’s Opening Comments>>

Comments by Anne Fausto-Sterling
Anne Fausto-Sterling, Professor of Biology and Gender Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University, chairs the Faculty Committee on Science & Technology Studies, and is a leading scientist of developmental genetics and sex and gender development. Watch Fausto-Sterling’s Comments>>
Comments by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University, directs the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute For African and African-American Research, publishes Transition magazine, edits the Oxford African-American Studies Center and the online magazine The Root. Watch Comments by Gates>>

Comments by Gary L. Gottlieb
Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, MBA, a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is the President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was Associate Dean for Managed Care at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Director and CEO of the Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, and President of the North Shore Medical Center. Watch Gottlieb’s Comments>>

Comments by Karla F. C. Holloway
Karla F. C. Holloway, James B. Duke Professor of English and Professor of Law at Duke University and founding co-Director of the John Hope Franklin Center and Franklin Humanities Institute, writes on literature, reading, biocultural ethics, and law.  Watch Holloway’s Comments>>
Comments by Peter Neufeld
Peter Neufeld, partner in the law firm of Cochran, Neufeld & Scheck, LLP, is an attorney, cofounder and co-Director of the Innocence Project. The Project has represented hundreds of inmates who successfully challenged their convictions through DNA testing.  Watch Neufeld’s Comments>>

Q & A Session
Watch the Question and Answer Session from Conversations @ 34: DNA and Identity. See the Q & A>>


A Forum Discussion: Interdisciplinarity in the Humanities

April 7, 2009
The Center’s faculty working groups invited faculty and graduate students to join a conversation about the current role and future of interdisciplinary work. Facilitated by a set of scholarly publications and news articles, discussion topics included: the nature of interdisciplinary work in the humanities, the difference between interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and crossdisciplinary work, the challenges to interdisciplinary work and teaching, as well as how future university plans affect the work of interdisciplinarity.

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