CSI mania
Why is forensic science so popular?
Saturday 1 November, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Henry Moore Gallery

In recent years forensic science has become much more prominent, enjoying widespread interest. It attracts more and more students at university. Forensic scientists have investigated the sites of atrocities of war as well as playing a role in more mundane criminal investigations. Many politicians argue that DNA databases will help fight crime, while in the courts, juries have come to expect increasingly high standards of forensic evidence.

This preoccupation is reflected in the high profile of forensic science in popular culture, especially detective fiction, with ‘forensics’ having taken over from old-fashioned interrogations as the prime means of solving crimes in TV dramas, most notably in the popular CSI franchise: ‘The evidence doesn’t lie,’ we are told. But are there dangers in placing so much authority - social, legal and cultural - in forensic science? What explains its popularity?

 Speakers
Dr Christopher McCabe
cancer researcher; under the name John Macken, author of forensic crime novels including Dirty Little Lies and Trial by Blood
Dr Tim Thompson
senior lecturer in crime scene science, School of Science & Technology, University of Teeside; author The Role of the Photograph in the Application of Forensic Anthropology and the Interpretation of Clandestine Scenes of Crime.
Dr Steve Sturdy
deputy director, ESRC Genomics Forum; researcher and lecturer, history and sociology of science and medicine, University of Edinburgh.
Dr Sarah Dauncey
literary researcher into the transactions between literature and forensic science; author These Bones Can Talk: Twentieth-Century Forensic Narratives; co-editor Corpse Life: The Contemporary Preoccupation with Human Remains (forthcoming).
Chair:
Dr Tiffany Jenkins
writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there


 Produced by
Dr Tiffany Jenkins writer and broadcaster; author, Keeping Their Marbles: how treasures of the past ended up in museums and why they should stay there

 Battles in Print
Forensic Interventions into Mourning: Remembering the Unnamed Dead, Sarah Dauncey

 Recommended readings
A painful past uncovered

For decades, the whereabouts of thousands executed in Spain under Franco's rule have remained a mystery. Now the exhumation of mass graves is reuniting relatives with their loved ones' remains - and revealing the country's dark history.

Graham Keeley, The Guardian, 21 August 2008

The bone detective

Sue Black's job involves rummaging around in mass graves, examining the remains of dead children and identifying people from their severed limbs. The forensic anthropologist tells Julie Bindel about the many secrets revealed by our skeletons and why 95% of her students are female.

Julie Bindel, The Guardian, 30 April 2008

Dirty Little Lies

Forensics will never be the same again.

John Macken, Corgi Books, 8 October 2007


All UK 'must be on DNA database'

The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said.

BBC News, 5 September 2007

Instant Expert: Forensic Science

Forensic science has become a hot subject due to US television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law and Order.

John Pickrell, New Scientist, 10 November 2006

The DNA Mystique: The Gene as a Cultural Icon

In highlighting DNA as it appears in soap operas, comic books, advertising, and other expressions of mass culture, the authors propose that these domains provide critical insights into science itself.

Dorothy Nelkin & M. Susan Lindee, University of Michigan Press, 19 July 2004


 Festival Buzz

"…the most interesting, diverse, serious and argumentative audience imaginable."
Prof Sir Bernard Crick