Jessica Lee Mathiason

Ph.D., University of Minnesota (2017), B.A., Northwestern University (2007)

Jessica Lee Mathiason received her Ph.D. in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society from the University of Minnesota in 2017. Her research focuses on how the interaction between new media and genetic technologies is shaping scientific frameworks of gender, race, and sexuality, particularly as they intersect with legal policy, questions of bioethics, and experiences of embodiment.

She is currently working on a book project titled Engineering Kinship: New Eugenic Media, Genetic Technologies, and the Queer Body, which examines the ideological and aesthetic evolution of eugenic discourse as it travels from Progressive Era Eugenic Cinema to 21st century genetic-themed film, television, and new media. Linking the critical humanities to the biological sciences, she contests the traditional narrative that eugenic science was an exclusively right-wing phenomenon by revealing the surprising appearance of several radical elements—feminism, progressive economics, and social welfare reform—within this otherwise pernicious social project. Today, these progressive strands of eugenic ideology have been de-radicalized through two significant shifts: from progressive economics to neoliberalism and from eugenics as a state-sponsored program to a corporation-driven one. This speculative future—depicted in audio-visual texts from Orphan Black and ReGenesis to viral videos on “Neo-evolution”— veers away from the progressives’ valuation of queer difference by employing technological means and legal strategies to compel social normativity.

Dr. Mathiason’s work has been published in the peer-reviewed journals Cultural Critique and Transgender Studies Quarterly and is forthcoming in the edited collections Orphan Black: Sestras, Scorpions, and Crazy Science (ed. Buckman and Brennan Croft, McFarland 2018) and Ethical Fashion and Empowerment (ed. Katrina Sark, Canadian Fashion Network 2018). She is also author of the novel Toxic Love: The Stalking of Nicole Briscoe (LexisNexis 2009).

Courses:
Women’s Bodies in Contention
Black Feminist Science Studies
Introduction to Women’s Studies: Women, Art, and Culture