Sabbatical Talks by Dr. Bill Leeming and Dr. Selmin Kara

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 - 3:00pm

Please join the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies for two Sabbatical Talks: “Extending the Meaning of “Genetic” in Medicine in Canada and Mexico to include ‘Related to Chromosomes and Genes’” by Dr. Bill Leeming and "Cinematic Life in the Anthropocene" by Dr. Selmin Kara.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

205 Richmond St. W., Room 320


Dr. Bill Leeming

Extending the Meaning of “Genetic” in Medicine in Canada and Mexico to include “Related to Chromosomes and Genes”

My talk describes work completed during my sabbatical in 2016-17, including collaborative work with Dr. Ana Barahona of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. I begin the talk by exploring how medico-scientific reporting of chromosomal anomalies using karyotype cytogenetics permitted scientists in a wide range of fields to manipulate and extend the meaning of “genetic” in medicine from “heredity” to include “related to chromosomes and genes.” I then go on to show how the adoption of cytogenetics in Canada and Mexico unfolded against strikingly different backgrounds in clinical research and health care delivery.

Dr. Selmin Kara

Cinematic Life in the Anthropocene

This talk presents an overview of one of the book chapters I completed during my Sabbatical. In recent big-budget science-fiction films such as Ridley Scott’s The Martian (2015) and Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (2007), the search for restoring or expanding sustainable life (which are necessitated by the climatic events that threaten human survival) require characters to interact with and maintain various forms of manmade closed ecosystems in outerspace. These ecosystems (ranging from small-scale life support systems comprising of a few species of edible and oxygen producing plants within the larger enclosures of space ships to grand-scale generation ship habitats that simulate entire biomes) initially establish a vision of life as a machinic-systemic artefact, which can be isolated and engineered through technological means. Alex Garland’s Annihilation (2018) also engages with the trope of closed ecologies in the making (this time located on Earth and colonized by nonhuman forces) yet moves toward weird realism as an aesthetic proper to depicting the ultimate strangeness and unknowability of life under the extant conditions of climate change. In exploring the scientific and weird cinematic realisms in these films, my talk tracks the ways in which the 21st century film has responded to the question of life in the Anthropocene, locating it on a spectrum that shifts from extreme certainty towards extreme uncertainty.

Venue & Address: 
205 Richmond St. W., Room 320
Image 1: A close up of a scientist seated at a desk and looking up from his work. Image 2: Still from Annihilation (2018)


Bill Leeming is an associate professor in the Faculty of Liberal Studies, lecturing in a range of subject areas including the social sciences, science and technology studies, and the history of print. His research of the last decade has focused on innovation in science and technology and, most recently, the diffusion of genetic diagnostic technologies in clinical settings in Canada and the UK.