Michael Rossi-“What Was Life?”- 4:30-6:00pm, Dec 3, 2015 (Thu) @ Haskell 102

Medicine and Its Objects presents

What Was Life?
Michael Rossi, University of Chicago, History of Medicine

Discussant: Marshall Kramer, University of Chicago, Anthropology

Thursday, December 3rd
Haskell Mezzanine 102

Note from the presenter:
This piece is one element in a volume that I’m working on with Stefan Helmreich, Sophia Roosth, and Natasha Myers (tentatively) entitled What Was Life? The volume is, loosely, an exploration of answers to the question “what is life?” since the beginning of the nineteenth century, from Gottfried Treviranus’s 1802 discipline-defining text, Biologie, to contemporary bioinformatics restatements of the same query. More than an exploration of an historical question, however, the volume is an experiment in method
– an attempt to explore new ways of writing the history and anthropology of the life sciences. To this end, we are writing the volume in the style of the 1920s surrealist parlor game known as the “exquisite cadaver.” In the exquisite cadaver, participants create a collective (or chimeric) text – for instance, a poem or drawing – without any one participant knowing the total of the parts before the conclusion of the game: the first person to “move” writes a sentence (or verse, or line) and passes only a small snippet to the next person, who incorporates that snippet into her “move,” then passes a small snippet of the new contribution to the third person, and so on until all participants have contributed without ever having seen more than a small bit of text. The full text is then revealed – or perhaps better, assembled – and read as a contiguous whole made from discontinuous parts.

For a copy of the paper, please contact Hiroko Kumaki (hkumaki@uchicago.edu).

For any questions and concerns about the workshop, or if you need assistance in order to attend, please contact Hiroko Kumaki (hkumaki@uchicago.edu).

We look forward to seeing you soon!