It's What You Do, and the Way That You Do It

By Griffin, Joyce A. | The Hastings Center Report, May-June 2009 | Go to article overview

It's What You Do, and the Way That You Do It


Griffin, Joyce A., The Hastings Center Report


It's what you do, and the way that you do it. Last November, I received an email telling me that an essay by Alice Dreger published in March 2008 on Bioethics Forum had been chosen to appear in the annual anthology edited by Lee Gutkind and the staff of the journal Best Creative Nonfiction. In some ways, the piece, "Lavish Dwarf Entertainment," was not really your standard bioethics fare--in fact, we asked Alice to send it after we read it on her Web site. It had never occurred to her that we might be interested. Yet Alice's attempts to reconcile her life's work--in her words, "getting people past anatomical stereotypes"--with that of her friend, Danny Black, a dwarf who rents his services by the hour for parties, are deeply rooted in the ethical issues we explore at The Hastings Center, in the Report, and on the Forum.

A creative narrative essay like Alice's represents an exciting opportunity for us because it looks at theory through the concrete lens of a story, which automatically broadens its audience. Readers of the Best Creative Nonfiction anthology may not be as familiar as Forum readers with the terminology of the tongue-in-cheek question Alice has Danny pose to her academic friends at her fortieth birthday party ("Resignification or dehumanization?"), but the meat of what she's grappling with is easy to recognize no matter what background a reader has. This is partly due to her subject matter and partly due to her talent at expressing it. …

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