A Simpler Life approaches the developing field of synthetic biology by focusing on the experimental and institutional lives of practitioners in two labs at Princeton University. It highlights the distance between hyped technoscience and the more plodding and entrenched aspects of academic research.
Talia Dan-Cohen follows practitioners as they wrestle with experiments, attempt to publish research findings, and navigate the ins and outs of academic careers. Dan-Cohen foregrounds the practices and rationalities of these pursuits that give both researchers' lives and synthetic life their distinctive contemporary forms. Rather than draw attention to avowed methodology, A Simpler Life investigates some of the more subtle and tectonic practices that bring knowledge, doubt, and technological intervention into new configurations. In so doing, the book sheds light on the more general conditions of contemporary academic technoscience.