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International conference on epigenetics

Aleksandra Stelmach (Exeter, she did her PhD at ISS), Brigitte Nerlich (ISS), and Miguel Valdez (OU, he did his MA at ISS) are giving a paper at an international conference - Aleksandra in presentia, Brigitte and Alan in absentia. 

The conference is entitled: "Re-thinking the Epigenome: Research, Risk and Responsibility in Postgenomic Times", Munich 13-15 July, 2022. The paper is entitled "The pain that binds us: Images of epigenetics and transgenerational trauma on google news". View an overview of the conference.


Since the early 2000s, the rise of research into environmental epigenetics has become a rich source of news for popular media. Much of the coverage has centred on the contested concept of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (TEI), the idea that acquired traits and experiences, especially of adversity (war, famine, even pandemics), can be passed down to offspring and affect health and lives of subsequent generations.

Much of the research exploring popular representations of epigenetics and TEI has focused on the written word, including the study of metaphors. However, both verbal and visual images are important when studying the emergence and spread of new ideas and concepts. Most crucially, both types of images are not neutral, as they promote certain ways of knowing, while marginalising others. In this paper, we employ visual frame analysis to study the imagery of TEI on Google News.

We show how images help make abstract claims of TEI visible and how they make it familiar by tapping into traditions of visual representations from both natural sciences, as well as trauma and psychoanalytic studies. We explore how this contributes to weaving TEI knowledge claims into the fabric of everyday life and experience and what this means for public understanding of epigenetics.

Posted on Tuesday 21st June 2022

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