Heather A. Love is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Waterloo, and her research draws on the interdisciplinary field of cybernetics to explore connections between early twentieth-century literary and technological discourses. Her work has appeared in Modernism/modernity, the Journal of Modern Literature, and the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
Heather A. Love
Questions of scientific testing, symptomatology, medical solutions, and epidemiological modeling have been front-page news this past year. But our diagnostic moment began long before the COVID-19 pandemic: from 23andme’s mail-in genetic analysis to WebMD’s online medical symptom checkers; from wearable fitness trackers that get smaller and sleeker with each new model to books and web series that promise inner joy through a simplified material existence; from a resurgence in theories of genetic determinism born of “scoring” individual genomes to the advent of a professional field dedicated to “diagnosing organizational culture.”
In 1926, Gertrude Stein delivered the lecture “Composition as Explanation” to the Cambridge Literary Club at Oxford University (fig. 1).