College of Liberal Arts

Cells, Genes, and Stories: HeLa’s Journey from Labs to Literature

Wednesday Mar 1, 2017 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM | Avaya Auditorium

Priscilla Wald, Chair of the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English at Duke University, will be presenting her lecture "Cells, Genes, and Stories: HeLa's Journey from Labs to Literature" on March 1, 2017. The HeLa cell line was derived from cervical cancer cells taken, without her knowledge or consent, from Henrietta Lacks, an African-American patient who died in 1951.

This lecture is the first in our Distinguished Visiting Lecture series this spring on the theme of "Health, Well-Being, Healing." Dr. Wald's recent work examines how information emerging from research in the genome sciences circulates through language and narratives, and how those narratives "register and promote a particular understanding of science that is steeped in (often misleading) cultural biases and assumptions." Dr. Wald is autor of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (2007), which considers the intersection of medicine and myth in the idea of contagion and the evolution of the contemporary stories we tell about the global health problem of "emerging infections."

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