In this dissertation, I claim that the figure of the scientific laboratory in literature serves as a means for the literary text to reflect upon its own conditions of possibility, its processes of production, and its socio-cultural functions, all of which enact an autocritique of literature by literature. In representing production within the scientific laboratory, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (chapter one) and H. G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau (chapter two) demonstrate how this space of scientific labor is a model for the space of literary production. Following out the claim that an isomorphism exists between these two spaces, I offer new insights into the processes and effects of literary inscription. With this focus on literary production, I read these literary texts from the perspective of the material and affective processes that constitute a literary object rather than from a point of view on the finalized product alone. I argue that the novel itself becomes a laboratory, a space of experimentation in and through which one enacts and reenacts the myriad living processes associated with literary discourse. In my third chapter, I further elaborate this perspective through a reading of bodies and social groups in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy that take on the qualities of scientific or literary laboratories, and often both at once. I specifically pay attention to Butler's use of genetics and genetic engineering in both the content and formal characteristics of her novels. Here, I take the laboratory as a concept for thinking through both literary labor, as well as the function of speculative fictions and utopian thought in the biotech industry and the life sciences. Finally, my fourth and final chapter considers the function of the laboratory as a social apparatus for the production of discourse on life in Ridley Scott's film Prometheus. As in the previous chapters, the laboratory is here a site in and through which the work's conditions of possibility are made visible, enabling the film to critique the roles of marketing and finance in contemporary laboratory practices that come to blur the line between the fictional and the scientific in the era of biocapital.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2013. Major: Comparative Literature. Advisor: Cesare Casarino. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 260 pages.
Hadley, Matthew James.
Laboratory literature: science and fiction in the place of production.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.