“The Xenotext: The Art of Genes, A Life of Extremes”— The DePaul Humanities Center




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Published on Apr 27, 2016

The DePaul Humanities Center presented “The Xenotext: The Art of Genes, A Life of Extremes” as part of its ongoing series, “Making the Novel Novel” on April 21, 2016 at DePaul University, Student Center, room 120, 2250 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago, IL.

When Mendel meets Mendelssohn meets Millay, biological art can result—and begin to reproduce. Biology, music, and poetry may not seem the most obvious bed-partners, creating a questionably hospitable environment for such thinking to come alive, but life, and art, can flourish in the most extreme environs. To conclude its series on novels and writing, the DHC welcomed three thinkers who blurred the lines between art and science. NASA scientist Jonathan Trent lectured on the science of extremophile life and the creative power of human ingenuity. Composer Peter Gena (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) lectured on, and played, music based on DNA sequencing. And celebrated experimental poet Christian Bök, who proposes to create an example of “living poetry” built into the genetic structure of an extremophile microbe, spoke about and gave a reading from his project, “The Xenotext,” and the dream of engineering a form of life that will write poetry—and in some sense be poetry—from now until the end of the Earth billions of years in the future.


Jonathan Trent

Peter Gena

Christian Bök

Discussion and Q&A

H. Peter Steeves
Director, The DePaul Humanities Center



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