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Biomythography: Terms


Provided is a growing list of terms that relate to themes, ideas, and concepts within Biomythography.

Class habitus

Class habitus is a loose but highly operative concept, elaborated by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, referring to the set of subconscious predispositions (i.e. likely actions and reactions), attitudes, perception schemes, beliefs, tastes, biases, including the way one moves (“hexis”), talks, and even one’s physical attributes, which are common to members of a particular social class, as defined by the amount and distribution of their economic, cultural and social capital. Habitus can thus be succinctly summarized as “internalized, or incorporated social class”, or more loosely as “the tastes and manner (French: manière)”, or the “the likely way” of its members.

Collective Memory

Maurice Halbwachs, a student of Durkheim, is the first sociologist to use the term “collective memory” and his work is considered the foundational framework for the study of societal remembrance. Halbwachs suggested that all individual memory was constructed within social structures and institutions. He claimed that individual private memory is understood only through a group context; these groups may include families, organizations, and nation-states. Halbwachs argued that the only individual memories that are not constructed through the group context are images from dreams. He believed that dreams are different from virtually every other human thought because they lack structure and organization.  Individuals organize and understand events and concepts within a social context, thus they then remember them in a way that “rationally” orders and organizes them through that same social construction. Halbwachs stated that every collective memory depends upon specific groups that are delineated by space and time; the group constructs the memory and the individuals do the work of remembering.

Cognitive Dissonance

Psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc.​

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory, or CRT, is a theoretical and interpretive mode that examines the appearance of race and racism across dominant cultural modes of expression. In adopting this approach, CRT scholars attempt to understand how victims of systemic racism are affected by cultural perceptions of race and how they are able to represent themselves to counter prejudice.


Closely connected to such fields as philosophy, history, sociology, and law, CRT scholarship traces racism in America through the nation’s legacy of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and recent events. In doing so, it draws from work by writers like Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others studying law, feminism, and post-structuralism. CRT developed into its current form during the mid-1970s with scholars like Derrick Bell, Alan Freeman, and Richard Delgado, who responded to what they identified as dangerously slow progress following Civil Rights in the 1960s.

Cultural Humility

Cultural humility is one construct for understanding and developing a process-oriented approach to competency. Hook, Davis, Owen, Worthington and Utsey (2013) conceptualize cultural humility as the “ability to maintain an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented (or open to the other) in relation to aspects of cultural identity that are most important to the [person]” (p. 2).

Three factors guide a sojourner toward cultural humility. The first aspect is a lifelong commitment to self-evaluation and self-critique (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). Underlying this piece is the knowledge that we are never finished — we never arrive at a point where we are done learning. Therefore, we must be humble and flexible, bold enough to look at ourselves critically and desire to learn more. When we do not know something, are we able to say that we do not know? Willingness to act on the acknowledgement that we have not and will not arrive at a finish line is integral to this aspect of cultural humility as well. Understanding is only as powerful as the action that follows.

The second feature of cultural humility is a desire to fix power imbalances where none ought to exist (Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). Recognizing that each person brings something different to the proverbial table of life helps us see the value of each person. When practitioners interview clients, the client is the expert on his or her own life, symptoms and strengths. The practitioner holds a body of knowledge that the client does not; however, the client also has understanding outside the scope of the practitioner. Both people must collaborate and learn from each other for the best outcomes. One holds power in scientific knowledge, the other holds power in personal history and preferences.

Finally, cultural humility includes aspiring to develop partnerships with people and groups who advocate for others(Tervalon & Murray-Garcia, 1998). Though individuals can create positive change, communities and groups can also have a profound impact on systems. We cannot individually commit to self-evaluation and fixing power imbalances without advocating within the larger organizations in which we participate. Cultural humility, by definition, is larger than our individual selves — we must advocate for it systemically.

Double Consciousness

Double consciousness is a term describing the internal conflict experienced by subordinated groups in an oppressive society. It was coined by W. E. B. Du Bois with reference to African American "double consciousness," including his own, and published in the autoethnographic work, The Souls of Black Folk. The term originally referred to the psychological challenge of "always looking at one's self through the eyes" of a racist white society, and "measuring oneself by the means of a nation that looked back in contempt". The term also referred to Du Bois' experiences of reconciling his African heritage with an upbringing in a European-dominated society. The term has since been applied to numerous situations of social inequality, notably women living in patriarchal societies.

Found Poem: Poetic Form

Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.

A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.


An important term in postcolonial studies, hybridity is the intermixing of cultures that has occurred as a result of colonialism. Its full meaning in contemporary discourse is grounded in the theories of major postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha, who conceives of hybridity as a “third space” in which cultural identity is negotiated in a way that subverts the power relations between colonizer and colonized. Hybridity originally referred to crossbreeding of plant or animal species in order to create a third, or “hybrid” species. In the nineteenth century, the term “hybrid” was used in a derogatory fashion to refer to people of mixed racial backgrounds, the implication being that interracial subjects were “impure” and thus inferior to their unmixed counterparts. Before “hybridity” took on the more positive connotations it has today, the term “creolization” was often used to describe the intermixing of cultures. “Creole” originally described the descendants of Caribbean colonists who were born and raised in the New World, but has been more widely used to describe the “new” languages formed by the mixing of native, African, and European languages within Caribbean colonial territories. Poet and historian Edward Kamau Braithwaite argues that Caribbean society can only be understood with reference to the enduring influence of creolization.


It is the chain of uses, communicational hybridization and contamination inherent to the social-interactive environment, that emerges with the uses of new forms of configuration that expands the limits of culture and media.


Intersectionality is a term coined by American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppressiondomination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities. These identities that can intersect include genderracesocial classethnicitynationalitysexual orientationreligionagemental disabilityphysical disabilitymental illness, and physical illness as well as other forms of identity.[1] These aspects of identity are not "unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but rather...reciprocally constructing phenomena."[1] The theory proposes that individuals think of each element or trait of a person as inextricably linked with all of the other elements in order to fully understand one's identity.[2]

This framework, it is argued, can be used to understand how systemic injustice and social inequality occur on a multidimensional basis.[3]Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society—such as racismsexismclassismableismhomophobiatransphobiaxenophobia and belief-based bigotry—do not act independently of each other. Instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the "intersection" of multiple forms of discrimination.[4]


a subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype

Normalization (sociology)

Normalization refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as 'normal' and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life. In sociological theory, normalization appears in two forms.

First, the concept of normalization is found in the work of Michel Foucault, especially Discipline and Punish, in the context of his account of disciplinary power. As Foucault used the term, normalization involved the construction of an idealized norm of conduct – for example, the way a proper soldier ideally should stand, march, present arms, and so on, as defined in minute detail – and then rewarding or punishing individuals for conforming to or deviating from this ideal. In Foucault's account, normalization was one of an ensemble of tactics for exerting the maximum social control with the minimum expenditure of force, which Foucault calls "disciplinary power". Disciplinary power emerged over the course of the 19th century, came to be used extensively in military barracks, hospitals, asylums, schools, factories, offices, and so on, and hence became a crucial aspect of social structure in modern societies.

Second, normalization process theory is a middle-range theory used mainly in medical sociology and science and technology studies to provide a framework for understanding the social processes by which new ways of thinking, working and organizing become routinely incorporated in everyday work. Normalization process theory has its roots in empirical studies of technological innovation in healthcare, and especially in the evaluation of complex interventions.​


a parafiction is related to but not quite a member of the category of fiction as established in literary and dramatic art.  It remains a bit outside.  It does not perform its procedures in the hygienic clinics of literature, but has one foot in the field of the real.  Unlike historical fiction’s fact-based but imagined worlds, in parafiction real and/or imaginary personages and stories intersect with the world as it is being lived.  Post-simulacral, parafictional strategies are oriented less toward the disappearance of the real than toward the pragmatics of trust.  Simply put, with various degrees of success, for various durations, and for various purposes, these fictions are experienced as fact.  

Perceptual narrowing

Perceptual narrowing is a developmental process during which the brain uses environmental experiences to shape perceptual abilities. This process improves the perception of things that people experience often and causes them to experience a decline in the ability to perceive some things to which they are not often exposed. The prevailing theory is that human infants are born with the ability to sense a wide variety of stimuli, and as they age, they begin to selectively narrow these perceptions by categorizing them in a more socio-culturally relevant way.

Reflexive remix

 The reflexive remix allegorizes and extends the aesthetic of sampling, where the remixed version challenges the “spectacular aura” of the original and claims autonomy even when it carries the name of the original; the material is added or deleted, but the original tracks are largely left intact to be recognizable.



Respectability Politics

Respectability politics or the politics of respectability refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous, and compatible, with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for what they see as its failure to accept difference.​

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