Brown Bag Talk: The Self-ish Gene: Retroactive Tropes in Richard Dawkins’s Evolutionary Rhetoric with Oren Abeles



Building on recent developments in Lacanian rhetorical cricicism, this presentation demonstrates how contemporary evolutionary theory posits genetic determinism without a clear definition of the gene. It makes this case through close readings of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, the landmark text of neo-Darwinian genetics. It demonstrates how Dawkins uses metaphors to substitute a single determinate agent in place of the genome’s interactive complexity. Despite Dawkins’ admission that he could not define the gene, his metaphors give his “selfish gene” a sense of unity and coherence that allows him to describe all other levels of life (organisms, species, ecosystems) as reducible to it.


Presented by Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Oren Abeles.

All are welcome to attend!


Wednesday, October 13, 2023.


Petersen Library, Walker Arts & Humanities Center.