Annual Simpson Lecture to focus on face transplant surgery, meaning of identity

The fact and fantasy of face transplant surgery will be the focus of the 16th annual Geddes W. Simpson Lecture at the University of Maine on Sept. 14.

Sharrona Pearl, an assistant professor in the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak on “Face Transplant Surgery and the Meaning of Identity: A history and case study” beginning at 3:30 p.m. in Minsky Recital Hall.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Samuel Hanes, 581.1885.

The first face transplant occurred in 2005 following a long history of representations reflecting the anxieties about manipulations to the face and their implications for identity. Pearl asks: How do we make sense of the journey of this intervention from science fiction to science? In her talk, Pearl will explore the history of the procedure in fact and fantasy.

The presentation is part of the Geddes W. Simpson Lecture Series, made possible by a fund established at the University of Maine Foundation in 2001 by Simpson’s family. Simpson was a well-respected faculty member whose 55-year career in the College of Life Sciences and the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station began in 1931. He chaired the Entomology Department from 1954 until his retirement in 1974. The lecture was established to support a series that highlights speakers who have provided significant insight into the area where science and history intersect.

Earlier in the day, Pearl will take part in a panel discussion examining the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities faced by Canadian scholars who research and teach in the United States. “Canadians Teaching in the United States” will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Coe Room of the Memorial Union.

Pearl will be joined by panelists Mark McLaughlin, an assistant professor of history and Canadian studies at UMaine; and Frédéric Rondeau, an assistant professor of French and assistant director of the Canadian-American Center at UMaine. The talk is co-sponsored by the Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center and the Canadian-American Center.