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Metagnosis: Retrospective Revelations from Blade Runner to ADHD and Beyond

An image of an oragami unicorn from the movie Blade Runner is on the left hand side. On the bottom right is a photo of Danielle Spencer wearing an red shirt with yellow polka dots with a bookcase behind her.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Danielle Spencer

What is the connection between Aristotle and Blade Runner? What do belated diagnoses of ADHD have to do with unexpected genetic test results? I propose the term metagnosis to describe the experience of learning of a longstanding undetected condition. In contrast to diagnosis, metagnosis effects a shift in the terms of knowledge, productively unsettling our understanding of medical knowledge, narrative, and identity. Just as speculative fiction tales of A.I. passing-as-human serve to unsettle the categories which have been transgressed, metagnosis invites generative skepticism towards biomedical boundaries as sole arbiter of the real. The implications extend beyond the medical realm to our understanding of identity itself.

Danielle Spencer, Ph.D. is a faculty member and Associate Director of the Columbia University Narrative Medicine Master of Science Program. Author of the forthcoming From Diagnosis to Metagnosis: How Retrospective Revelations Unsettle Knowledge, Narrative, and Identity (Oxford University Press, 2020) and co-author of Perkins-Prize-winning The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (OUP, 2017), her research interests include retrospective diagnosis, contemporary film and bioethics, and healthcare pedagogy. Spencer's work appears in diverse outlets from Ploughshares to The Lancet. Formerly artist/musician David Byrne's Art Director, she holds a B.A. from Yale University, an M.S. in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, a

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