The purpose of this research is to use a visionary model of narrative exploration evinced on the Renaissance stage in speculating and re-imagining the future of biodesign. Intersecting biology, design, and technology, the field of biodesign explores how biological materials and design strategies might solve complex global problems such as how the use of microorganisms to degrade toxic chemicals in drinking water. Reaching back through time and intersecting Renaissance drama’s imaginative renderings of cultural beliefs with 21st century biodesign considerations, this presentation offers a scenario where humanities and science scholars enter a shared conversation that hypothesizes on how speculative narratives might influence the future technologies that impact biodesign. Examining elements from three dramatic works by Shakespeare, one of the most influential dramatists of the early modern stage, three narrative strategies manifest innovative performative subjects as models of speculative thinking: creating agency for an imaginary component (ghost father in Hamlet), exploring outcomes between the imaginary and the real (the relationship between Ariel and Prospero in The Tempest), and the influence of metaphysical imagination (flying daggers in Macbeth) that can be used for speculating a host of innovative futures. The significance of Shakespeare’s innovative narrative framework is, unlike the literary gothic, in a diversity of narratives and ways that story can play out. Therefore, this work argues that the use of Shakespeare’s narrative framework for speculating and re-imagining the cultural mores might result in a vibrant spectrum of imaginative futures that transcend beyond the speculative models of science fiction narratives. This richness of imagination will be the fuel for the better innovative solutions in field of biodesign and beyond.


Pataranutaporn, P., & Fazel, V. (2017). Shakespeare and Speculative Biodesign Futures. In Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. SLSA.


Pat Pataranutaporn
Valerie Fazel