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Sophia Roosth, “Evolutionary Yarns in Seahorse Valley: Living Tissues, Wooly Textile, Theoretical Biologies”

March 16, 2015 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

sophia roosth portrait

Sophia Roosth, assistant professor at Harvard University, will lecture at the LSU College of Art & Design at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2015, at the LSU Design Building Auditorium (room 103).

Roosth’s lecture, “Evolutionary Yarns in Seahorse Valley: Living Tissues, Wooly Textile, Theoretical Biologies,” covers material modeling, marine life forms, and feminine handicraft, focusing on the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef and the work of Chicago artist Aviva Alter. Her research focuses of twentieth and twenty-first century life sciences. Her first book manuscript, based on four years of ethnographic fieldwork, examines how the life sciences are changing at a moment when researchers build new biological systems in order to investigate how biology works. In this work, Roosth asks what happens to “life” as a conceptual category when experimentation and fabrication converge. To answer this question, she tracks groups as diverse as synthetic biologists (bioengineers who build standardized genetic components), amateur biohackers who promote biological research in community labs, and molecular gastronomers (those who apply biochemical principles and technique cooking). She draws upon anthropological accounts of craft and artisanship to analyze this recent turn to biological manufacture. This research piqued her interest in how non-visual senses (e.g., hearing, taste, and touch) figure in scientific research and knowledge production. For example, Roosth has written about sonocytologists who record cellular vibrations, exploring how listening to cells impacts how researchers understand biological processes.

At the lecture’s Q & A, she could also discuss some of her other endeavors. For example, she recently delivered a talk at a colloquium in the English Department at Buffalo (“The Synthetic Kingdom: Queer Kinship in the Post-Genomic Era”) assessing new forms of transgenic organisms and how biologists describe their taxonomies in a language that resonates with recent theories of voluntary or queer kinship. She could talk a little about her second book project, which is a long history of latent life, looking to cryptobiotic organisms and forms of life identified by biologists, geologists, and astrobiologists in rocks, stone, dust, and powder.

This lecture is presented by the School of Art, departments of Geography and Anthropology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English.

For more information, please visit Sophia Roosth’s webpage:


March 16, 2015
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
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LSU School of Art


LSU College of Art & Design Auditorium
LSU Design Building, Room 103
Baton Rouge, LA 70803 United States
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