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Man, Woman, Puma, Leopard: Technology And The Body

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Rethinking Culture and Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.831.1 - 7.831.8



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Paper Authors

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Rosanne Simeone

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 3561

Man, Woman, Puma, Leopard: Technology and the Body

Rosanne Simeone University of Virginia

What value ought engineers place upon the human body? Do different bodies earn different values? What about animal bodies? How should technological advances affect the human body? This paper will use a new undergraduate course entitled “Technology and the Body” to discuss how one group of second year engineering students in a variety of majors addressed the value of the human body and bodily integrity from physical, social, cultural, and ethical perspectives. This paper will focus on body-altering technologies as portrayed in H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896). 1 In addition to raising animal-human, gender, and mind-body issues, this novel questions the level of responsibility required of the researcher towards his subjects and towards other professionals.

The Island of Dr. Moreau A classic of science fiction, The Island of Dr. Moreau tells the tale of a mad vivisectionist who toils on a remote Pacific island, attempting to transform animals into humans. We first meet our narrator, Edward Prendick, a natural historian, in the dinghy of the Lady Vain, a ship that has recently sunk. Castaway from the very opening of the novel, Prendick relates how he alone survived the ordeal. Although the three men in the boat had finally agreed to draw straws to determine the unfortunate sacrifice for cannibalism, the two other men fought over the result, struck their heads on the gunwale, fell overboard and drowned. Consequently, when Prendick is rescued by the cargo ship Ipecacuanha, he is suspected of having killed and eaten his companions. His recovery depends upon the ministrations of Montgomery, Moreau’s assistant, and is accompanied by the angry growlings of the caged female puma.

The drunken captain of the Ipecacuanha casts Prendick adrift once more, and Montgomery, with Moreau’s permission, rescues him a second time, towing him to the island. Once on the island, Prendick is initially kept in the dark about the vivisection experiments taking place. The howlings of the puma, however, drive him out of the enclosure, where he encounters the products of Moreau’s previous experiments: the deformed beasts of the island. After learning that Moreau practices vivisection, Prendick believes that Moreau transforms men into animals and fears that he himself will be Moreau’s next subject. Prendick’s attempted escape set in motion Moreau’s explanation of the experiment, the puma’s escape, Moreau’s and Montgomery’s deaths, and Prendick’s final months on the island among the Beast People.

Value of the Animal versus Human Body Prendick responds to Moreau’s experiments with much more horror and aversion when he believes that Moreau is vivisecting human beings. This difference in reaction raises questions

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Simeone, R. (2002, June), Man, Woman, Puma, Leopard: Technology And The Body Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10803

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