Read All Over reviews

Family-MakingFamily-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges

Edited by Carolyn McLeod and Francoise Baylis

 With the advent of new reproductive technologies, and the wider acceptance of same-sex families, has also come with an array of new options – and ethical considerations – in the practice of procreation and family dynamics.

Traditionally, family planning was largely indexed on bionormativity; namely, the desire for biologically related progeny. However, in recent decades, innovations in assisted fertility technologies have given partners new hope, as well as more widespread recognition of issues facing surrogacy. Same-sex, or alternative partnerships, has extended that hope to ever more people who seek the joys of parenthood.

With the aid of key readings, Baylis and McLeod sensibly lay out the terrain of sometimes tense debates over the rights of parents, children and the historical context that once placed more value on bionormativity, while also giving considerable consideration on various legal and ethical issues that arise in the complicated domain of adoptive versus the problematic nomenclature of ‘natural’ parents.

Inasmuch as technologically assisted reproduction practices seem to provide some measure of benefit, it may also lead to questions of genetic selection; just as surrogacy may seem an ideal route for some, there have been cases where the surrogate is a form of exploited labour that makes the body the site of biopolitical tension. This is but a small sample of the many ethical issues that emerge with dramatic changes in both law and technological capacity, making this edited collection an ideal handbook for those who wish to familiarize themselves with a landscape dotted with both opportunities and proverbial minefields.

Carolyn McLeod is a professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies and Feminist Research at Western.

Measure-of-a-LeaderThe Measure of a Leader

By Robert I. Mann

When it comes to defining leadership, history affords us a plethora of examples that extend from religious, political, financial, scientific and artistic forms. There is also a surfeit of definitions that are attributed to those leaders who have reflected on what makes a good leader.

However, are we any closer to truly defining leadership, or do we traffic in the same glittering generalities stitched together into some static series of traits and attributes others who crave leadership must aspire to?

Mann takes us on a deliberate journey through 20th-century theories of leadership, weighing these in terms of whether leadership is contingent upon the overall organizational structure, some form of self-determined animus, or defined by the quantifiable acts carried out by leaders such as successful performance metrics. Any of these precepts taken alone may be disputable in how to effectively measure leadership, if not also inviting complacency that leadership is ‘proven’ simply by the relative health or success of an organization.

Instead, Mann charts the more challenging route to develop a more comprehensive and methodologically sound instrument for evaluating leadership with a holistic approach.

Arguably the capstone of this volume, Mann’s Leadership Appraisal Questionaire is built on the premise of not simply a leader’s place in the organization, or an ability to dominate, but in the inter-dynamic relationship between those who lead and those who are led. This constituting a much more detailed and descriptive portrait of leadership.

Robert I. Mann is a Sociology professor at King’s University College, as well as a faculty member in Western’s Faculty of Information and Media Studies.

Way-it-wasThe Way it Was

By Don Gutteridge

There is no doubt the poems collected in this svelte volume have been memorially ‘lived in’ that must negotiate a world with and without words.

Gutteridge’s poetic offerings do not rely on complex conceptual acrobatics, but are seemingly designed as accessible snapshots of life, a snippet of sentiment, the sudden reanimating blush of a faded history. Gutteridge takes as much pains in where to stagger these free-verse poems as he does in staggering the memories they contain. Each tells a story in the form of a vignette, its context established quickly like the flash of a photographer’s bulb. They resolve their ‘story’ only relatively, a discrete interval as each is a textual image in an album composed of pictures broken up by silences and spaces where words retreat.

Accented with very memorable imagery, such as the widow Mrs. Bray being “bee-deep” in the flowers, or the tasteful alliterations of “glittering gladioli” and “dappling daze,” all serve to call us home to our humble archive of memories to delight in those moments when the slap of a strap, an engine drone, the spectacular light of the crepuscular evening, and the passage of life to a wordless world are personally profound events.

Both pleasant and haunting, we are treated to a world of velvet voices and muttering mortars in a memorial transfer from past to present, from present to beyond.

Don Gutteridge is a professor emeritus in Western’s Faculty of Education.