Genome and Genre: DNA and Life Writing

Genome and Genre: DNA and Life Writing 16-couser 4/9/01 3:18 PM Page 185 GENOME AND GENRE: DNA AND LIFE WRITING G. THOMAS COUSER The mouse contains most human genes. —Leroy Hood (149) “The Holy Grail,” “the Code of Codes,” “the Book of Life,” “the Book of Man,” “the autobiography of a species”—the human genome is often referred to in terms more appropriate for texts, even sacred texts, than for the tiny strips of DNA of which it actually consists. As these phrases suggest, the genome has become a contemporary icon to which many look for the unrav- eling of the mysteries of life and for the solution to many human problems. We regularly hear of milestones in the progress of the Human Genome Pro- ject: periodically we are informed of the discovery of the gene for “X,” and not long after the arrival of the new millennium, the completion of the sequencing of the entire genome was announced, to predictable media fan- fare. Partly as a result of extensive media coverage of the Project, we live in an era when genetic influence is given unprecedented credence as an expla- nation of human behavior. I half expect that in the not-too-distant future, scientists associated with the Human http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biography University of Hawai'I Press

Genome and Genre: DNA and Life Writing

Biography, Volume 24 (1) – Feb 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 Biographical Research Center.
ISSN
0162-4962
eISSN
1529-1456

Abstract

16-couser 4/9/01 3:18 PM Page 185 GENOME AND GENRE: DNA AND LIFE WRITING G. THOMAS COUSER The mouse contains most human genes. —Leroy Hood (149) “The Holy Grail,” “the Code of Codes,” “the Book of Life,” “the Book of Man,” “the autobiography of a species”—the human genome is often referred to in terms more appropriate for texts, even sacred texts, than for the tiny strips of DNA of which it actually consists. As these phrases suggest, the genome has become a contemporary icon to which many look for the unrav- eling of the mysteries of life and for the solution to many human problems. We regularly hear of milestones in the progress of the Human Genome Pro- ject: periodically we are informed of the discovery of the gene for “X,” and not long after the arrival of the new millennium, the completion of the sequencing of the entire genome was announced, to predictable media fan- fare. Partly as a result of extensive media coverage of the Project, we live in an era when genetic influence is given unprecedented credence as an expla- nation of human behavior. I half expect that in the not-too-distant future, scientists associated with the Human

Journal

BiographyUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Feb 1, 2001

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