BioCriticism – New Seminar – 24th February 2023

The inaugural meeting of BioCriticism, a new seminar series, will be held on the 24th of February 2023, at 2 pm at the Maison de la Recherche (salle du conseil, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris).

The proposed scope of biocriticism is:

a. critical examination of artistic engagement with biological images, discourse and practices

b. critical theory currently engaging with the concepts and discourse of the life sciences

c. art as a space which engages critically with biological theory, technology and rhetoric

The seminar’s theme for 2023 is “Through the Microscope”: it will explore art and theory engaging with microbiological, genetic and epigenetic perspectives (See programme below). Sessions will alternate between academic presentations and informal sessions exploring recent artistic work and research. The first meeting is in person, the following sessions online.

BioCriticism seminar launch – 24th February 2023, 2 p,  Salle du Conseil, Maison de la Recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris.

Guest speaker: Lisa B. Keränen (Colorado University): 

“Biocriticism as inventional practice: The case of global health security”

Respondent: Catherine Bernard (Université Paris Cité)

Abstract: This talk outlines a proposal for connecting disparate areas of inquiry under the umbrella of biocriticism and traces its linkages to an emerging transdisciplinary field called the rhetoric of health and medicine. After enumerating possible definitions, goals, and applications, it offers an example of how biocriticism can increase understanding of the relations between bios and nomos, life and politics. By tracing the emergence of the concept of “global health security” and associated terms across WHO and US policy rhetoric in the mid-2000s, it reveals how bios and nomos were reconfigured in the wake of concerns about emerging infectious disease. It concludes by speculating on the promise and challenges of conceiving of biocriticism as an effort that links interdisciplinary practices concerned with the co-evolution of life and politics.

Lisa Keränen is Associate Professor and Chair of Communication and Affiliate Faculty of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver, Colorado, USA. Her research and teaching concern the rhetoric of health and medicine and biosecurity. Her first book, Scientific Characters: Rhetoric, Politics, and Trust in Breast Cancer Research, received the Marie Hochmuth Nichols Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Public Address. Her current book project, under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press, is Envisioning Viral Apocalypse: Rhetorics of Risk, Biosecurity and Resilience from Anthrax to Covid. She is a past President of the Association for the Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine (ARSTM).

Catherine Bernard is Professor of British literature and visual studies at Université Paris Cité. Her research hinges on the politics of form, from Modernism to contemporary aesthetics. She has published extensively on modernist and contemporary visual culture and art (from the Bloomsbury group, to Gillian Wearing or Rachel Whiteread). Among her recent publications, one can mention the edited journal issue: “Ubiquitous Visuality: Towards a Pragmatics of Visual Experience,” InMedia. The French Journal of Media Studies, 8.1, in collaboration with Clémence Folléa, 2020. Her latest monograph was published with Sorbonne University press: Matière à réflexion. Du corps politique dans la littérature et les arts visuels britanniques contemporains (Presses de l’Université Paris Sorbonne, 2018). She is currently working towards a monograph turning to the politics of embodiment in contemporary fiction and visual arts, specifically in relation to Covid and its representations.

BioCriticism 2023 – “Through the Microscope” – Programme

  • February 24th, 2 pm Central European Time, in person and online

Communication scholar Professor Lisa B. Keränen (Colorado University) will discuss “Biocriticism as inventional practice: The case of global health security”.

Her respondent will be Literature scholar Professor Catherine Bernard (Université Paris Cité).

NB The first meeting will exceptionally be in person as well as online, in the Salle du Conseil, Maison de la Recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris.  

  • March 10th, 2 pm Central European Time, online

Theatre director Frédérique Aït-Touati (CNRS) will discuss La Trilogie Terrestre(created with Bruno Latour)

  • April 21st, 2 pm Central European Time, online

Professor François-Joseph Lapointe (Université de Montréal) will discuss microbiology in his artistic practice

  • May 12th, 2 pm Central European Time, online

Artist-designer Marie-Sarah Adénis will discuss microbiology in her artistic practice

  • June 9th, 2 pm Central European Time, online

Literature scholar Dr Lara Choksey (University College London) will discuss epigenetics, poetics, and atmosphere

For information and links, please check the programme or contact

BioCriticism is organised with the support of PRISMES EA4398 and the Institut Universitaire de France

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