Skip to main content

Events

I Cannot Control Everything Forever: A Memoir of Motherhood, Science and Art

General Programming

dateApril 29, 2024 timeMonday, 6:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Cosponsors
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
  • Columbia Center for the Study of Social Difference
  • Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society: Medical Humanities
Organizer
  • Motherhood and Technology Group
Contact
email address [email protected]
Notes
  • Registration required.
  • Free and open to the public
Painting of a nude woman's hands with yellow and magenta spray paint overlayed

The Motherhood and Technology Working Group is hosting a book launch for group member Emily Bloom’s latest work, I Cannot Control Everything Forever: A Memoir of Motherhood, Science, and Art (St. Martin’s Press, 2024).

I Cannot Control Everything Forever is Emily Bloom’s journey towards and through motherhood, a path that has become, for the average woman, laden with data and medical technology. Emily faces decisions regarding genetic testing and diagnosis, technologies that offer the illusion of certainty but carry the weight of hard decisions. Her desire to know more thrusts her back into the history of science as she traces the discoveries that impacted the modern state of pregnancy and motherhood. With the birth of their daughter, who is diagnosed with congenital deafness and later, Type 1 diabetes, Emily and her husband find their life centered around medical data, devices, and doctor’s visits, but also made richer and fuller by parenting an exceptional child.

As Emily learns, technology and data do not reduce the labor of caretaking. These things often fall, as the pandemic starkly revealed, on mothers. Trying to find a way out of the loneliness and individualism of 21st-century parenthood, Emily finds joy in reaching outwards, towards art and literature–such as the maternal messiness of Louise Bourgeois or Greek myths about the power of fate–as well as the collective sustenance of friends and community.

About the Author

Emily C. Bloom is a Mellon Public Humanities Fellow at Sarah Lawrence College, where she teaches literature. She also coordinates lifelong learning programs at the Wartburg Adult Care Community in Mount Vernon, NY. Her book The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 (Oxford University Press, 2016) was awarded the First Book Prize by the Modernist Studies Association. She has previously taught at Columbia University, the US Air Force Academy, and Georgia State University. She lives with her family in New York City.

Speakers

Rachel Adams specializes in 20th- and 21st-century literatures of the United States and the Americas, disability studies and health humanities, media studies, theories of race, gender, and sexuality, and food studies. Her most recent book is Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery, published by Yale University Press in 2013 and winner of the 2014 Delta Kappa Gamma Educators' Award. She is also the author of Continental Divides: Remapping the Cultures of North America (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2001). She is co-editor (with Benjamin Reiss and David Serlin) of Keywords for Disability Studies and co-editor (with David Savran) of The Masculinity Studies Reader (Blackwell Press, 2001). She is the editor of a critical edition of Kate Chopin's The Awakening (Fine Publications, 2002).

Meredith Gamer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, where she specializes in the art and visual culture of Britain and the Atlantic world. She has published essays and articles on a range of topics, including the visual culture of enslavement and abolition, the material history of medical illustration, plaster casts and art pedagogy, and the work of William Hogarth. She is currently completing a book on art and the spectacle of capital punishment in eighteenth-century London.

Randi Hutter Epstein is a medical writer, and serves at Yale University as the Writer in Residence at the medical school and lecturer in the English Department. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Randi has worked as a medical writer for the London bureau of The Associated Press and was the London bureau chief of Physicians’ Weekly. She is also the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank (W.W. Norton) and AROUSED: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything (W.W. Norton).

Sayantani DasGupta is a faculty member in the Master's Program in Narrative Medicine, the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, all at Columbia University. Originally trained in pediatrics and public health, her work has appeared in journals including The Lancet, JAMA, Pediatrics, The Hastings Center Report, Literature and Medicine, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, and The Journal of Medical Humanities.