Information Science + Studies Faculty Database
Information Science + Studies
Arts & Sciences
Duke University

 HOME > Arts & Sciences > ISS > Faculty    Search Help Login pdf version printable version 

Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English and Information Science + Studies and Director of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society

Priscilla Wald

Priscilla Wald teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, particularly literature of the late-18th to mid-20th centuries, contemporary narratives of science and medicine, science fiction literature and film, law and literature, and environmental studies. Her current work focuses on the intersections among the law, literature, science and medicine. Her last book-length study, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, considers the intersection of medicine and myth in the idea of contagion and the evolution of the contemporary stories we tell about the global health problem of "emerging infections.” Wald is also the author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form and co-editor, with Michael Elliott, of volume 6 of the Oxford History of the Novel in English, The American Novel, 1870-1940. She is currently at work on a book-length study entitled Human Being After Genocide. This work chronicles the challenge to conceptions of human being that emerged from scientific and technological innovation in the wake of the Second World War and from the social and political thought of that period, which addressed the geopolitical transformations that followed the war and decolonization movements. Wald is interested in tracking how those debates found expression in what, following several historians, she calls a new mythistory (the term marks the mythic features of a collective history, or creation story).  She tracks it through the rise of science fiction as a newly emergent mass genre and then turns to how it inflected the debates around the science and ethics of biotechnology as it became a multi-billion dollar industry. She is interested, in this project, in showing how beliefs and values circulate through mythistories as well as in how, why, and when mythistories become more visible and accessible to change.  This project explores the particular importance of science, law, and religion to these stories and works to identify ideas of the sacred that we don’t typically identify as such.  Wald is especially interested in analyzing how information emerging from research in the genome sciences circulates through mainstream media and popular culture, thereby shaping a particular understanding of the science that is steeped in (often misleading) cultural biases and assumptions. In her research, her teaching and her professional activities, she is committed to promoting conversations among scholars from science, medicine, law and cultural studies in order to facilitate a richer understanding of how information circulates through language, images, and stories to shape lived experience. Wald's professional service includes: co-editor of American Literature, co-editor, with David Kazanjian and Elizabeth McHenry of the America in the Long Nineteenth Century book series at NYU Press, Chair of the Faculty Board of Duke University Press, member of the Editorial Boards of Penn Studies in Literature and Science and the journal Literature and Medicine, Senior Editor for American Literature, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, and co-director, with Sean Goudie, of the First Book Institute. She has served as President of the American Studies Association and on the National Council of that organization as well as on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association and as the MLA representative to the American Council of Learned Societies. Wald is currently Margaret Taylor Smith Director of the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and is on the Faculty Governance Committee of Science and Society and the steering committee of IS&S (Information Sciences + Information Studies) at Duke.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  327B Allen Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Office Phone:  (919) 684-6869
Email Address: send me a message
Web Page:  http://isis.duke.edu/~pwald

Office Hours:

By request
Not teaching Spring 2010
Education:

Ph.D.Columbia University1989
Special Candidate, Columbia Center for Psychoanalytic Training and ResearchColumbia University1987
M.A.Columbia University1981
B.A.Yale University1980
Specialties:

American Literature
Medicine and Literature
Science and Literature
Law and Literature
Gender & Sexuality Studies
African American Literature
Modern to Contemporary
Novels
Critical Theory
Other
Research Interests: American Literature; Literature and Medicine; Literature and Science; Literature and Law; science and new media; race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity;

Current projects: book-length study of the challenges posed to conventional conceptions of human being that followed from scientific and technological innovation and social and political thought in the wake of the Second World War and decolonization movements.

Priscilla Wald teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, particularly literature of the late-18th to mid-20th centuries, contemporary narratives of science and medicine, science fiction literature and film, and environmental studies. Her current work focuses on the intersections among the law, literature, science and medicine. Her recent book-length study, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, considers the intersection of medicine and myth in the idea of contagion and the evolution of the contemporary stories we tell about the global health problem of "emerging infections." She is currently at work on a book-length study entitled Human Being After Genocide. This work chronicles the challenge to conceptions of human being that emerged from scientific and technological innovation in the wake of the Second World War and from the social and political thought of that period, which addressed the geopolitical transformations that followed the war and decolonization movements. The trajectory of the book moves from these challenges through the rise of science fiction and the theory of "biopolitics" to the mapping of the human genome and its consequences. She is especially interested in analyzing how information emerging from research in the genome sciences circulates through mainstream media and popular culture and how the language, narratives and images in those media register and promote a particular understanding of the science that is steeped in (often misleading) cultural biases and assumptions. Recently, having co-edited, with Michael Elliott, volume 6 of the Oxford History of the Novel in English, The American Novel, 1870-1940, Wald is also working on several essays on American literature and culture for essay collections. In her research, her teaching and her professional activities, she is committed to promoting conversations among scholars from science, medicine, law and cultural studies in order to facilitate a richer understanding of these issues. Wald is the author of Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form. She is also editor of American Literature as well as on the Editorial Board of Literature and Medicine, co-editor of a book series on nineteenth-century American Literature at NYU Press, Chair of the Faculty Board of Duke University Press and on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. She has served on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association and is currently the MLA representative to the American Council of Learned Societies; she recently completed a term as President of the American Studies Association. She has a secondary appointment in Women's Studies, is on the steering committee of ISIS (Information Sciences + Information Studies) and is a member of the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and an affiliate of the Trent Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities and the Institute for Global Health.

Areas of Interest:

American Literature & Culture
Late 18th-mid 20th Century Literature
Intersections of Law, Literature, & Medicine
science and new media
race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity (social and political belonging)

Keywords:

Genetics • Genomics • Race • Racism • Scholarly publishing • Science fiction

Current Ph.D. Students   (Former Students)

  • Shea Bigsby  
  • Patrick Morgan  
  • Christopher Ramos  
  • Brenna M Casey  
  • Kita Douglas  
  • Marina S. Magloire  
  • Sara Seeskin  
  • Lauren Pawlak  
  • Rebecca Evans  
  • Mary Lingold  
  • Cheryl Spinner  
  • Michelle Koerner  
  • Gerry Canavan  
  • Frances McDonald  
  • Lynne Feeley  
  • Pete Moore  
  • Clare Callahan  
  • Damienadia Marassa  
  • William Hunt  
  • Kevin Modestino  
  • Colby Bogie  
  • Sarah M. McLaughlin  
  • Allison S Curseen  
  • Jessica D Bardill  
  • Erica N Fretwell  
  • Tony Tost  
  • Patrick P. Jagoda  
  • Vin Nardizzi  
  • Jene Schoenfeld  
Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Wald, P, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative (2008), Duke University Press  [abs]
  2. Wald, P, Constituting Americans: Cultural Anxiety and Narrative Form (1995), Duke UP (second printing, 1998.)  [abs]
  3. Wald, P, “Geonomics: the Spaces and Races of Citizenship in the Genome Age”, in America–From Near and Far: Varieties of American Experience, edited by Raphael, ML; Wilhelm, C (2007), Department of Religion, William and Mary College
  4. with J. Clayton, K.F.C. Holloway, Genomics in Literature, the Visual Arts, and Culture, special issue, Literature and Medicine (Spring, 2007)
  5. Blood and Stories: How Genomics is Changing Race, Medicine, and Human History, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 40 no. 4/5 (November, 2006)


Duke University * Arts & Sciences * ISS * Faculty * Staff * External * Reload * Login