CFP: Selfhood in a Posthuman Context (grad) (1/10/06; McGill, 3/11/06-3/12/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Lindsay Holmgren

12th Annual Graduate Conference on Language and Literature: McGill
University, Montreal

Theme: Permeability and Selfhood

March 11-12, 2006


This call for papers is for a panel to be held at Permeability and Selfhood,
the McGill Graduate Conference on Language and Literature, which will take
place March 11-12 at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Selfhood in a Posthuman Context


    This panel will address fictional representations of the "posthuman" in
twentieth-century narrative prose and/or film. Concepts of the posthuman
attempt to theorize the human being as a multiplicity of selves: from a
plethora of cyberselves coded in ones and zeros (in email, text messages,
weblogs, etc.), to a combination of DNA molecules, to a biological, embodied
individual, to a consciousness with an independent will. The posthuman
understands humanity as being involved in a process of combination or
replacement by such entities as cybernetic mechanisms, computer simulations,
nanotechnologies and robots.

    A number of theorists work to reclaim the human body for the posthuman
being; however, many narratives nostalgically construct the posthuman
subject as essentially a cluster of significations (transferable or even
downloadable consciousness, DNA codes, etc.) and therefore as not embodied.
This panel is interested in how such narratives hark back to late-nineteenth
and early-twentieth-century ideas about human beings as essentially
consciousnesses, which do not depend upon a body for survival. For example,
papers might address characters' resistance to the many biological,
technological and economic networks that progressively diminish their
agency. Turning on fiction of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth
centuries, theories of the posthuman sensitize us to the following kinds of
questions: How does the human in twentieth-century fiction attempt to assert
or, at the very least, understand itself in a context resistant to
individual selfhood? In what ways does the writing subject, as well as the
resulting narrative in which the human being is represented, support an
understanding of the human being as signified and signifiable information
and thereby undermine the embodiment of the posthuman subject?


Some paper topics might include:


Posthuman agency


The ethics of the posthuman subject


Consciousness as selfhood / consciousness as fiction


Science fiction and the posthuman gothic


Writing as humanist act


The figure of the monster in narrative fiction



The deadline for paper proposals is January 10, 2006. Please send abstracts
of approximately 300 words to <> The keynote speaker for the conference will be
Terry Castle, Walter A. Haas Professor in the Humanities at Stanford
University. More information about the conference is available at

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Received on Tue Dec 13 2005 - 08:39:44 EST