"Limits of the Human"

full name / name of organization: 
Early Modern Center at Uninversity of California, Santa Barbara
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The Early Modern Center of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) invites paper proposals for our 2010 Winter Conference, "Limits of the Human." The conference will take place on Friday March 5 2010 at UCSB. We hope to include papers from a range of critical and disciplinary contexts, covering the period 1500-1800.

Cloning, organ farms, the completion of the Human Genome Project, recombinant DNA, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and other manufactured life forms, all suggest that, depending on one's point of view, the twenty-first century opens onto a horizon of radical possibilities for the future or cataclysmic end of what is meant by "human." UCSB's Early Modern Center Winter Conference, "Limits of the Human," turns back to the early modern period to ask: before we were posthuman, how did we become human? How and why do early modern representations of hybrids, animals, monsters, anomalies, race, gender, and automata define what is human and separate out what is not? How do those things classified as non-human construct, reflect, or refract humanness? What innovations in technology, botany, labor equipment, law, and mathematical notation helped to calcify the boundaries of the human? How did Cartesian, Newtonian and Leibnizian systems of the world shape the conditions that Michel Foucault argues, "made it possible for the figure of man to appear"? In what ways were the "limits" always permeable, and how did they invite transgression and mutation? The EMC's one-day interdisciplinary conference provides a forum to explore early modern literary and cultural responses to the issues and questions that helped delineate the limits of being human.

We invite papers that will add to our understanding of the limits of the human in the early modern period. Please send abstracts, 300-500 words to emcconference@gmail.com by December 4 2009. Please direct questions to Billy Hall at the above email address.