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Research project

Beyond the Gene: epigenetic science in 21st century


Lead researcher

Emeritus Professor Clare Hanson

Research interests

  • My current research focuses on multi-species worlds as they are represented in the biological sciences and in literary and science fiction. It links the contemporary interest in multi-species entanglements, evident in a slew of popular science books and TED talks, with a shift away from the gene-centric biology which had such a powerful influence in the run-up to the completion of the Human Genome Project. The scientific focus has now moved from the causative gene to relations between the organism and the environment, largely due to the pressure of the climate emergency which has forced a recognition of the material interdependencies of humans and other organisms. In consequence, the very category of ‘the human’ as a bounded individual is being called in question, as scientists, philosophers and writers of fiction and auto/biography turn their attention to human/non-human relations. This project explores the writing of multi-species worlds across a range of disciplines and contexts, tracing the commonalities and disjunctions between the assemblages that emerge in such texts as Donna Haraway’s Staying with the Trouble, Anna Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World, Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan’s Microcosmos, Jeff Van der Meer’s Southern Reach, Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk and Sarah Hall’s The Wolf Border.  
Other researchers

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs