(Post) Human Lives--A Biography Seminar and Special Issue (12/15/2010; 8/2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Center for Biographical Research
contact email: 
biograph@hawaii.edu

In preparation for a special issue of Biography in 2012, to be co-edited by Gillian Whitlock and G. Thomas Couser, we are issuing a call for abstracts for papers dealing with some aspect of the post human, as it has been widely discussed recently. The editors will select from the abstracts, and the chosen contributors will then be invited to a symposium in Honolulu in late August of 2011, when the participants will share more detailed versions of their work, receive comments for the other contributors, and together discuss the focus of the entire collection. Contributors will then prepare revised full versions of their papers, which will be edited in the Fall of 2011. The result will be the Winter 2012 issue of Biography.

A thematic description of the proposed volume, and the details for submission of proposals, follow:

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(Post) Human Lives. A special issue of Biography

What does posthumanism, an interdisciplinary project that examines questions of what it means to be human with particular interest in the making and unmaking of the humanist subject, bring to our thinking on life narrative? This special issue is interested in the boundaries where the limits of the human come into play in auto/biographical representations.

The critique of the humanist subject is a familiar feature of work in life narrative: the Enlightenment narrative of man as a rational, autonomous and sovereign subject is frequently contested in our scholarly field of academic criticism. If we think of boundaries where the limits of the human come into play we think about encounters with the animal on one hand, and with technology and the machine on another. We might also think about the fields shaped by queer studies and disability studies, which call into question the dimensions of the humanist subject, and liberal humanist values. Concerns associated with posthumanism are not new to auto/biography studies; however, this issue will open up critical space for a productive engagement with the apparent contradiction of “posthuman auto/biography”.

Potential topics include readings of life narrative is engaged in negotiations of the human that consider:
encounters with the animal other
new assemblages of the self that emerge through biotechnology and the machine.
the material and cultural transformation of biological life that is underway at the shifting boundaries of conception, birth, ageing and death
the thresholds of the human in “human rights” and humanitarian storytelling
whether the ‘posthuman’ has attended the human since Descartes and is potentially continuous with it
reconfigurations of place and space that challenge anthropocentrism
the place of life narrative in current theorising of the posthuman (in, for example, Donna Haraway, Rosi Braidotti, Cary Wolfe, Judith Butler)
This issue suggests that posthumanism is a way of returning to some familiar things otherwise to raise different questions about the subject and the self, and to examine how autobiography has been at one and the same time deeply embedded in humanism and a point where the limits of the human are the subject of constant negotiation and displacement.

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Potential Contributors should submit a three page abstract and a CV by DECEMBER 15, 2010. All submissions will receive a decision by mid-January, with further information about dates for the symposium, travel arrangements, and funding.

Submit abstract and CV to Craig Howes, Co-Editor, Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, at biograph@hawaii.edu. For more information, please write to the same address.

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