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August 29, 2007

The Science of Cloning

I just finished Star Split by Kathryn Lasky, another post-Dolly cloning book. It describes a future dystopia in which, although there are strict regulations regarding genetic engineering and cloning, there is no appreciation of the individual. It never ceases to amaze me how authors do not bother to check scientific facts in this day and age. Lasky's dystopia allows the cloning of gifted people, including the head of state, out of the notion that the clones will be 'copies' of the original and gifted in the same way. She has obviously never encountered identical twins. Her heroines, although growing miles apart, are both mountain climbers. At least Lasky doesn't claim that memory is transferable, as does Chris Farnell in Mark II. It is rather irritating.

August 16, 2007

Are clones cyborgs?

I'm working on my last and fifth chapter, and recently gave a presentation on it at a Children's Literature PhD day at Roehampton. I'm looking at a range of YA books about teenaged clones, and the paradox they create for adults: while adults enlist technology in order to reinforce their control over the unpredictability of having children, the products of this technology, the clones, exist outside the family structure and thus have the potential to disturb one of the main institutions that perpetuates the adult-child power hierarchy. I used Dona Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto where she suggests that a cyborg has no myth of origins. I claimed in my paper that clones are a kind of cyborg as they are 'made' rather than 'born'. This argument was seriously criticised, and my colleagues claimed that a cyborg does have 'parents' be it the scientist or the person from which the original DNA was taken. I wanted to ask what you thought of this.

August 15, 2007

Introducing Noga

In case you were starting to wonder who is this Noga person appearing on the sidebar as a contributor, yet not really contributing anything so far, here is my first entry, which narcissistically, is all about myself. I'll try to be more modest by posting the information as an extended entry, so not all of you will have to suffer…

I'm a Children's Literature PhD Student at the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature (NCRCL), a part of Roehampton University.

My thesis, which I'm due to submit in March 2008, is entitled Interfaces of Technology and Children's' Literature through the Dimension of Science Fiction Written for Young People, and explores representations of technology in children's science fiction from 1980 onwards. In a nutshell, (and quite simplistically),my central hypothesis is that there is an anti-technological bias prevalent in science fiction written for children (as opposed to adult science fiction), despite it being a genre which ostensibly celebrates technology. I suggest that a reason for this bias could be adult fear of technology's potential to upset the current adult-child power balance.

My research will be published by Routledge sometime in 2008.

Other publications include:

Applebaum, N. (2005). Electronic Texts and Adolescent Agency: Computers and the Internet in Contemporary Children's Fiction. Modern Children's Literature: An Introduction. K. Reynolds. Basingstoke and New York, Palgrave: 250-263.

---. (2006). "The Myth of the Innocent Child: The Interplay between Nature, Humanity and Technology in Contemporary Children's Fiction." Journal of Children's Literature Studies 3(2): 1-17.

---. (tbp 2007). A Future without a Past: Technology and History in Three Children’s Science Fiction Novels in An Invitation to Explore: New International Perspectives in Children's Literature. L. Atkins, N. Dalrymple, M. Gill and L. Thiel (eds.). London, Pied Piper.

I also write for children and twice won the London Writers' Competition.

See you in the next blog!!

August 14, 2007

The last issue of Paradigm

Paradigm is, or rather was, the excellent occasional journal of the Textbook Colloquium, an eclectic group of textbook aficionados from a wide range of backgrounds convened by Prof. Chris Stray of Swansea University.

Recently a PDF of the final issue of Paradigm landed in my inbox, circulated by the journal's latest editor Prof. Sue Walker, out of the department of Typography at Reading. It will be posted on the journal's website soon, and this site is worth checking anyway for back-issues dating to 1999, ambitiously all free to download.

Paradigm was consistently very well produced and of high quality. Light enough (and interesting enough) to carry around and read on the tube, it is a model to follow! This is probably mainly due to the people behind it, but I do hope that an enthusiastic group will step in to relaunch the journal at some point in the future. (Email me if you'd like a copy of the final issue before it comes on the website!)