Priscilla Wald, Professor of English and Women's Studies at Duke University, spoke at Saint Louis University on March 30th, 2009. Professor Wald's recent
work, Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, "considers
the intersection of medicine and myth in the idea of contagion and the evolution
of contemporary stories we tell about the global health problem of 'emerging infections.' She is currently at work on a book-length study of the impact of genomics on current thinking about categories of social, biological and political belonging and on the narrative of human history. She is especially interested in analyzing how information emerging from research in the genome sciences circulates through mainstream media and popular culture and how 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. In her research, her teaching is 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 Boards of ESQ and Literature and Medicine, co-editor of a book series on nineteenth century American Literature at NYU Press, and Chair of the Faculty Board of Duke University Press. She completed a four-year term on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association. She has a secondary appointment in Women's Studies, is on the steering committees of the Institute for Global Health and ISIS (Information Sciences + Information Studies), and the curriculum committees for certificates in Global Health and the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, and is an affiliate of the Trent Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities." (from the English Department web site of Duke University: http://fds.duke.edu/db/aas/English/pwald ).