With Great Power Comes Changing Representations: From Radiation to Genetics in the Origin of Spider-Man

  • Simon Locke


In 1962, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and transformed into Spider-Man; in 2000, Peter Parker was bitten by a genetically modified spider and transformed into Spider-Man. What does this change in scientific representation mean? This paper reflects a little on this question to suggest that, whilst in one way it is an indication of the cultural penetration of ‘gene talk’ (Howe HF, Lyne J Social Epistemol 6:1–54, 1992) – that is, the rhetoric of the genetic determination of the whole of life (if not quite the universe and everything) – in another way it means nothing of any particular significance at all (In saying this, as should become clear from the following discussion, I do not mean it is merely a ‘McGuffin’ or plot device, although it might be taken to have something of this nature).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Locke
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesKingston UniversityLondonUK

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