Disability studies fall lecture – Persuasion, Human Improvement and Disability: A Talk from Fables and Futures

George Estreich, instructor of writing, Oregon State University
When: 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12
Where: University Student Commons, SGA Senate Chambers

From Francis Galton’s “Essays in Eugenics” at the turn of the 20th century to news of the first gene-edited babies, the dream of human improvement has been entwined with persuasion. Looking at contemporary and historical examples, from the famous allegorical drawing of the “Eugenics tree” to scientist He JianKui’s YouTube announcement of gene-edited twins, George Estreich looks at the literary aspects of persuasion, with particular attention to metaphor. What values do these persuasive acts embody? Whose purposes do they serve? And whom do they obscure, dehumanize or erase? The literary content of these persuasive acts suggests a necessary role for writers, literary critics and scholars of disability studies, as society seeks to collectively guide the use of new and powerful biotechnologies in human beings.