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I woulda rather had my mother, Oct. 14

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Posted on Friday, October 9, 2015

At 7 p.m. on October 14 in Witherspoon Maple Room, McKelvey Campus Center, Dr. Bethany Hicok will give the first of three lectures sponsored by the First-Year Program, building on the summer book that was read by all incoming students: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks."

The title of her talk is, "‘I woulda rather had my mother:' Race, class, love, loss, and the politics of consent.’

“The words in the first part of the title are spoken by Henrietta Lacks’s son, Zakariyya. The subtitle obviously refers to all the themes I’m going to touch on in the talk,” said Hicok. “I’m focusing specifically on the story that Rebecca Skloot tells and how she tells it.”

“The story (the narrative) is very powerful, and she uses a lot of novelistic techniques to tell it,” continues Hicok. “Skloot thereby helps her readers empathize with the Lacks family and understand more fully how their rights have been violated. So I’m going to focus on how Skloot helps us to think through a lot of the power issues that influence and drive biomedical research. I will also touch on the issue of patients’ rights and consent for medical treatment, and, finally, what has happened to the Lacks family since Skloot’s book came out.”

For more information on the first of three lectures, contact Darlene McCoy at

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