Life Writing in the Era of Genetics: Contemporary Genetic Risk Narratives in Great Britain and America

  •  Tingting Zhou    


The development of genetic science brings forth a third group besides the healthy and the ill: the high-risk group who carries certain disease-related genes. In the era of genetics, people try to assess risks with statistical numbers and eliminate risks by Western medical measures. In this context, personal genetic risk narratives (usually in the form of memoirs) emerged in Great Britain and America in the 1990s. The thesis has a close reading of three British and American genetic risk memoirs and wants to find the characteristics and values of the new genre. The memoirs are featured by their vivid description of the narrator’s difficult and complex situation in face of genetic risks. In an era when the body is dominated by statistical numbers, these narratives make personal meaning of impersonal statistics. Genetic risk narratives express a strong belief in genetic technology and Western medical myth. However, the narrative divergence and self-contradiction in the memoirs exposes the limitation of genetic determinism and thus deconstructs the Western medical myth.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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