Augie Reads: 'Never Let Me Go'
Are scientists able to clone humans? If so, should they? How might this decision affect an individual's perspective on life, and on his or her relationships with others? Never Let Me Go takes place in an alternate present-day, in which these questions have been answered in a way that's perhaps different than we might expect; the characters, in living their daily lives, must face the complexities of their reality.
The following is a list of web resources, organized by broad theme, curated by Augustana librarians to help incoming first-year students as they read the 2013 Augie Reads book, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro.
• Science • Ethics • Literature • Psychology • Relationships
The Genetic Science Learning Center is a science and health education program affiliated with bioscience research being carried out at the University of Utah. Their mission is to make science easy for everyone to understand. The site provides terrific explanations of what cloning is, has an interactive page that allows you to clone a mouse, and provides links to many resources. The materials meet selected U.S. education standards for science and health.
This "Cloning Fact Sheet" provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about cloning and provides a link to an app of a "Talking Glossary of Genetics Terms." It also contains a helpful image explaining the cloning process.
This organization is the primary site in support of human cloning technologies. It is the work of a private foundation; note the disclaimer in red toward the top of the page. The group represented by this website has a particular agenda, and the materials on this site should be recognized as having that bias.
--compiled by Connie Ghinazzi
"Double or Nothing," by Robin K. Sterns (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University)
The author of this article interviewed several university professors about their perspectives on cloning, especially human cloning; because these professors come from various fields - biology, philosophy, theology, and more - reading about their views can give you a sense of many possible ways of thinking about cloning. Although this article was written in the late 1990s, when Dolly the cloned sheep was in the news, the ethical questions it addresses remain relevant today.
"Room for Debate: Should Laws Push for Organ Donation?" (The New York Times)
The "Room for Debate" feature on the New York Times website asks experts to provide brief commentary on issues in the news. This discussion of organ donation was published in 2010, as the state of New York considered changing its laws about how people would consent to be donors. Although the circumstances in this case are very different than those in Never Let Me Go, you will likely see the overlap of themes as these experts discuss how consent to donate should be obtained.
"What Does it Mean to be Human?" by David Livingstone Smith (Psychology Today)
An important ethical question in Never Let Me Go is whom we should consider human and why. In this article for the magazine Psychology Today, a philosophy professor explains what people actually mean when they say that someone "is human." He presents his argument clearly and logically, but you still may want to read more than once in order to fully understand. What insights can this article give you about how various characters in the book define what it means to be human?
"We Are All Bystanders," by Jason Marsh and Dacher Keltner (Greater Good Science Center, University of California at Berkeley)
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley researches and promotes human well-being. This article from the center's website considers why so few bystanders - people who witness or know about tragic events as they occur - come to the rescue, while many others look on without ever trying to help. In Never Let Me Go, why do you think so few people from the greater population try to help the donors? What insights does this article provide about the societal circumstances that might have led to the situation in the novel?
--compiled by Stefanie Bluemle
The following newspapers and magazines offer book reviews of Never Let Me Go:
Other Useful Sites
Powell's Books features a brief synopsis of the novel, excerpts of reviews, reader comments, and a "Q&A" with author Kazuo Ishiguro.
NPR has an audio interview with Kazuo Ishiguro, and you can listen to him read the opening passage of the novel.
--compiled by Amanda Makula
You may be familiar with the five stages of grief, as identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The stages - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are not always experienced in order, nor is each felt for equal lengths of time. You may also want to explore other pages of this website, including the sections related to "Professional Caregivers" and "Palliative Care." Studies have shown that we experience grief differently if we can see it coming, as do the characters in Never Let Me Go, as opposed to grief resulting from a sudden event. Do the characters in the novel experience grief in a way that seems familiar or understandable to you?
In complicated grief, the symptoms and side effects of grief do not subside after a reasonable amount of time; instead, they worsen and become debilitating to those experiencing it. This site from the Mayo Clinic explores complicated grief, its signs, and possible ways to recover.
Caregiving professionals - nurses, home health aides, etc. - have long played a role in our healthcare system, caring for the aging, seriously ill, and disabled. However, as the population of the United States ages, more and more adults with little to no formal experience are finding themselves in the position of being primary caregivers for elderly friends or family members. Explore this site to learn more about some of the federal resources available for caregivers. How is the relationship of a "carer" to a "donor" similar to or different from these real-life examples?
Caring for Parents - The New Old Age Blog (The New York Times)
This blog from The New York Times compiles the personal accounts of average Americans as they struggle to balance their personal needs with the increasing necessities of caring for aging parents. Also included are links to related internet resources on topics such as end-of-life care, government services, and emotional support.
A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2011 found that the less people know about complex social issues - including the environment and the economy - the more they try to preserve their ignorance. Do you think the characters in Never Let Me Go are happier before they learn the truth about their lives? The mental health social network PsychCentral.com summarizes this research, which seems to indicate that people prefer to remain ignorant about serious, complicated issues; you will be able to access the full study through Augustana's library this fall when you come to campus.
--compiled by Anne Earel
"The International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) is a scientific and professional organization including hundreds of scholars and practitioners focused on stimulating and supporting the scientific study of personal and social relationships (www.iarr.org)." On this interesting website, you will find blogs, articles, and videos. When you come to campus in the fall, you will also be able to access - via the Augustana College Tredway Library - two professional journals published by the IARR: Personal Relationships and the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
A cooperative site featuring write-ups of relationship research by a number of IARR members.
A podcast featuring discussions with authors of papers in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Sponsored by Sage Publications.
A blog by Bjarne Holmes, Ph.D., at Psychology Today that discusses "the latest and most pertinent peer-reviewed findings from the field of relationship science" (www.psychologytoday.com).
A blog by Amy Muise, Ph.D., at Psychology Today that "navigates the complexities of sex and relationships" (www.psychologytoday.com).
Presents recent news and research about sex and relationships from psychologist Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D.
Very pertinent to Never Let Me Go, this website looks at the science of how close personal relationships affect health.
A blog by David P. Schmitt, Ph.D., at Psychology Today.
Commentary and analysis from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
--compiled by Margi Rogal