Title page for ETD etd-10162009-113335

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Smith, Andrew James
URN etd-10162009-113335
Document Title Genetic gold : the post-human homunculus in alchemical and visual texts
Degree Master of Arts
Department Visual Arts
Advisor Name Title
Prof E Dreyer Supervisor
  • genetic homunculus
  • human DNA
Date 2009-04-29
Availability unrestricted

The phenomenon of the homunculus as an aspect of creating life in the laboratory is a documented attribute of Western premodern and medieval Arabic alchemy. Early alchemical texts can be seen to reveal the archetypes and myths present in the contemporary practice of creating life in the laboratory. Current genetics research endeavours to create ever-more complex genetic chimeras using human DNA and the creation of such creatures can be seen to constitute a return to the homunculus mythology. The extent to which this creature, this genetic homunculus, manifests in contemporary society is revealed in popular visual culture and the arts to be a prominent feature of the contemporary psyche. Ontological means of negotiation of a genetically engineered being falls to arguments of natural versus artificial in terms of post-humanism. The homunculus is shown to be impossible to arbitrate in terms of a transcendent mythology in this sense and the provided examples from visual culture reveal that this marvel is, as a result, myriad in teleological outcomes.

Copyright 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Smith, AJ 2009, Genetic gold : the post-human homunculus in alchemical and visual texts, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10162009-113335/ >

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