SUNY English Professor to Talk on Biopolitics of Immortality May 7 at Cal Poly

Tim Dean, English and comparative literature professor at State University of New York, Buffalo, will present “Who Wants to Live Forever? Henrietta Lacks and the Biopolitics of Immortality,” from 2:10 to 4 p.m. Thursday, May 7, in the Science North Building (No. 53), Room 215, at Cal Poly. 

Tim Dean, SUNYDean will explore the now-infamous case of Henrietta Lacks by exploring its “biopolitical” implications. He will also reveal some unexpected and profound ways that the humanities and life sciences intersect. 

Lacks was an African-American woman diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in 1951. Her cancerous cells were extracted during treatments without her consent, and they became the first immortal cell line for medical research, which continues to this day.

In his talk, Dean will critically assess the various narratives that have brought Lacks’ case to widespread public attention, most notably Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Dean is among the most provocative and widely read authorities in contemporary queer theory, an approach to literacy and cultural study that rejects traditional categories of gender and sexuality. His work blends the psychoanalytic, historical, ethnographic and scientific approaches to the field of sexuality.

Additionally, Dean, a British philosopher and author, has written several books, including “Beyond Sexuality” and “Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking.” He also serves as director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis & Culture at SUNY Buffalo.

Dean’s presentation is sponsored by the Cal Poly Biology, English, Ethnic Studies, and Women’s & Gender Studies departments. Admission is free and open to the public. 

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