Global Prehumanisms: An interdisciplinary conference
Sponsored by the Program in Medieval Studies, University of Illinois
October 18-20, 2018
In the wake of the posthuman turn, scholars across the humanities and sciences are rethinking humanity’s place in the world via technology, biology, ecology, and ethics. As we explore new paradigms that reject anthropocentrism and seek to better understand the imbrication of humans, environments, and technologies, we look to the past for alternate conceptions of humanity and its role. Global Prehumanisms will bring together a diverse group of international scholars to explore how the premodern world, broadly conceived, can offer models for decentering the human. Environmental cultivation and exploitation, interactions with flora and fauna, and depictions of cosmology from Asia to Africa to Europe to the Americas reveal notions of “the human” that stand in stark contrast to post-Cartesian humanism. Likewise, the interplay among humans and materials objects, built environments, networks of commerce, and epidemiology and contagion illuminate the longue durée of the larger global exchanges that underwrite human dominance in the Anthropocene. Global Prehumanisms will foster conversations across traditional boundaries within Medieval and Early Modern Studies and provide opportunities for collaboration with our colleagues in later periods to create a global, transhistorical, and multidisciplinary dialogue about posthumanist futures.
With keynote addresses by Peggy McCracken, Mary Fair Croushore Professor of the Humanities, University of Michigan, and Anne Harris, Johnson Family University Professor of Art and Art History, DePauw University.