Forms of Life: Reading Humans, Animals and Machines in a Posthuman World (April 12-13, 2013)

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University of Alabama in Huntsville
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Keynote speaker: Dr. Cary Wolfe (Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor, Rice University)

Though its claims reach back farther, in the past two decades posthumanist thought has labored to redraw, or even cancel, the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman (animal, vegetable, mineral, machine, etc.). The pervasive presence of genetic, cybernetic, and prosthetic technologies in synchronicity with globalization, virtualized social relations, and the environmental crisis have inspired questions of the very definition of the human. Posthumanism opens the political, the economic, the cultural, the artistic and the literary to a radically reshaped hermeneutics that can both reflect on the deep past as well as the vexed present. Our conference calls for papers that engage literary, theoretical, and/or other cultural texts with questions evoked by a posthumanist turn. We welcome analyses of texts from any periods and genres. We desire readings that take up the human in light of posthumanism's revelations, as well as those that exit the human altogether in order to read other forms of life. Broad questions might include, but are not limited to: How do we define the human today in the age of artificial intelligence, companion species, and genetic modification? What is the status of the subject if the human is pulled back into a mesh wherein the animal, the cyborg, the alien, the woodland, bacteria and other life reside? What is the state of the body in the wake of genetic and prosthetic reorientation? What constitutes community if the human elides with other forms of life? How can we read animals, plants, and even the vibrant matter of stone in a reconceived, polycentric environment? How might all of these questions inform older texts (ancient, medieval, early modern) seen as emerging prior to the scientific and technological innovations we view in the present?

Papers may include considerations of the posthuman in topics such as the following:

Feminism
Critical race theory
Postcolonial studies
Ecocriticism
Utopia/Dystopia
Film studies
Globalization
Queer theory
Citizenship studies
Border studies
Architecture
Science Fiction
Science and technology
Comics/graphic novels
Genre studies
Literary/historical periodization

Please submit a 200-300 word abstract by February 1, 2013, to Professor Joseph Taylor (wjt0003@uah.edu).