Work -in- progress Seminar
Josie Gill (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)
Human cloning, although yet to become a reality, is often evoked in
discussions of the posthuman subject, the clone acting as a symbol of the
unsettling of traditional conceptions of human nature provoked by developments
in biotechnology. The ambiguous nature of the clone has inspired writers
wishing to explore the boundaries of the human. In Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, the figure of the clone
acts as “something very simple –it sounds rather grand – but, a metaphor for
the human condition”. However whilst Ishiguro avoids ethical discussions about
reproductive cloning in favour of the wider question of what it means to be
human, cloning is more than simply an expedient metaphor for this question in
the novel. In this seminar I will discuss how Ishiguro’s exploration of cloning
is accompanied by a consideration of race, a parallel which draws on the
genetically defined identities of both the clone and racial other. Through the
evocation of the experiences of people marginalised because of their racial
difference in the portrayal of the clones, the reader is forced not only to
confront contemporary processes of exclusion and dehumanization, but to
consider how the racially marginalised might act as prototypes for artificially
reproduced subjects. The novel suggests that as we enter the twenty first
century, alternative ways of thinking about what it means to be human are
required, whether or not genetic technologies result in new methods of human
Josie Gill is a PhD student in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on race and genetics in contemporary British fiction.
Open to all. No registration required.
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