Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Modifying the Black (Self) Body through Science and Technology, a Historical and Social Context

deadline for submissions: 
September 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Melvin G. Hill
contact email: 

Scientific and technological advances in genetics, artificial intelligence, and human enhancements forge new perspectives and challenges of the human being. Posthumanism and Transhumanism reconsider approaches to traditional concepts of what it means to be human as they actively promote ways in which humans can move beyond conventional notions of the human and pragmatically engage in human enhancement, promoting a reconfiguration of human possibilities and shaping the potentiality of a future humanity. Literature has been one of the effective mediums to articulate and rethink visions of human evolution and critically examine the existential crisis of the human through post- and transhumanist thought. In fact, African American literature has demonstrated the nexus between black subjectivity, human enhancement, science, and technology, and its increasing concern over time. For instance, Charles Chesnutt offers ideas of genetic engineering through biological reconfiguration or amalgamation as seen in “The Future American,” while George S. Schuyler employs machine technology to disrupt the colorline in Black No More. Contemporary speculative fiction writers such as Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany vividly speak to issues of agency, gender, identity, race, and sexuality through the lens of science and technology. Many scholars have pointed out the implications and consequences of black subjectivity (or race) in the space of post- and transhumanism such as Ricardo Guthrie, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Kristen Lillvis, and Andrew Rollins among others. These thinkers and writers above represent the ultimate concern of post- and transhumanist issues related to the specificity of black subjectivity. As such, ideas of post- and transhumanism are manifested in African American literature and thought with clear distinction and, at times, with implicit subtlety.

Chapter proposals are invited for the edited book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Modifying the Black (Self) Body through Science and Technology, a Historical and Social Context. This volume will explore and examine post- and transhuman blackness in African American literature and critical thought. The central premise of the collection is to look at post- and transhuman blackness through the imagination and critical thought of African American writers and thinkers whose contributions to the post- and transhuman discussion may not have received the necessary and well-deserved attention. Contributions from a wide range of disciplines are welcomed such as critical race studies, feminism, gender studies, history, literary criticism, psychology, queer studies, religious studies, sociology, theology, and women’s studies. A non-exhaustive series of topics and analyses of post- and transhuman blackness include but not limited to:

• What is Post- and Transhuman Blackness?

• Philosophical issues

• Engaging Technologies

• Religion and Theology

• Human enhancement

• Slave Narratives and Miscegenation

• Representation of post- and transhuman performance

A wide range of authors will be considered for the collection including Martin Delany, Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, Jean Toomer, George S. Schuyler, Francis E. W. Harper, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, and Alicia Michaels. However, other authors are certainly welcomed.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Modifying the Black (Self) Body through Science and Technology, a Historical and Social Context is historically grounded and socially charged as it seeks to provide careful analysis and engaging interpretation of the importance of post- and transhumanism by drawing on specifically African American visions, imagination, and critical perspectives.

Interested authors should send a 300-word abstract and 200-word biography to mhill33@utm.edu by September 1, 2017. Contributors will be contacted by October 1, 2017, with anticipation for completed chapter drafts by March 1, 2018. Only previously unpublished work will be considered.

The editor of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Modifying the Black (Self) Body through Science and Technology, a Historical and Social Context, Melvin G. Hill, is an Associate Professor of English Studies at the University of Tennessee, Martin. Hill’s earlier edited book is Existentialist Thought in African American Literature before 1940 (Lexington Books, 2016).

Contact Information: Melvin G. Hill, Ph.D. University of Tennessee, Martin

Contact Email: mhill33@utm.edu