Mar 31 2009

“Science Girl” or “Technology Girl”….

by at 12:30 pm under Uncategorized

Next semester is going to come sooner than I’d like, so I’m starting to really think about this application process. I like Science and Technology Studies as a whole, but I know that my writing sample is going to have to emphasize one over the either (ie: more science-y, or more technologically based). So, I was thinking, will I “package” myself more as “science girl” or “technology girl?” (haha, I like them both actually….sounds like a nifty super-hero name). After much thought, I’ve decided that I’m probably going to submit a writing sample that demonstrates my interests in electricity and literature, that way I can have both science and technology: the electrical phenomenon is itself scientific, but it’s applications could also bring it into the technological sphere. I’ve really started thinking about this distinction between science and technology after someone in the audience at UVA asked for me to expand on that distinction, and I think that was incredibly helpful. It’s really quite simple–electricity, as a principle, is science, and it’s application is technological– but I don’t think I was explicitly thinking about the distinction. 

So, in light of all this, I think I’m going to stick with the electrical metaphor and magnetism that we see earlier in the century, rather than focusing on the more technological metaphors of bodies and machines that we begin to see later in the century. I’d like to focus on how notions of animal magnetism provide mental maps, which allowed for a more fluid understanding of race. I touch on this in my UVA presentation: when bodies are thought to be unified by an electrical principle, then the importance of skin is diminished. I’ve always wanted to write on Robert Montgomery Bird’s Sheppard Lee and now I think I’ll have my chance! Bird, himself a trained physician, was clearly informed by principles of animal magnetism with all the “body jumping” that happens throughout. I’m thinking about how Sheppard Lee’s soul enters the body of the dead slave. Oh, I’m excited! I miss early American texts (Sheppard Lee is 1835, I believe), and I think I can have the opportunity to get back into this period.

2 responses so far | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to ““Science Girl” or “Technology Girl”….”

  1. melissa on 06 Apr 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I keep finding references to electricity everywhere! It seems to be tied to aesthetics, which is something I am interested in.

    Portions of Paul Gilmore’s “Romantic Electricity, or the Materiality of Aesthetics” might be interesting, esp. if you are focusing on the earlier part of the century.

  2. Cheryl Spinner on 07 Apr 2009 at 9:51 am

    i love Paul Gilmore’s work! he has a couple of articles on electricity and nineteenth-century American lit. i couldn’t have written Cima’s paper without his article on Frederick Douglass. He tracks the electrical metaphor in Douglass’s writing; i tracked the electrical metaphor in female abolitionist rhetoric. starting to see the connection?

    i’ve also “Romantic Electricity”–the parts on Dickens and James are the best!

    if you’re interested in electricity and aesthetics, Jason Rudy (at UMD College Park) is writing a book called Electrical Meters. he talks about how romantic poetry actually begins to mimic electrical impulses, etc. it’s not finished yet, from what i understand, but you should keep your eyes peeled.

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