[UPDATE] Technology & the Human: Rethinking Posthumanism - April 1, 2016

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Brandeis English Department Graduate Student Conference
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Technology & the Human: Rethinking Posthumanism

Keynote: Professor N. Katherine Hayles -- Duke University

Brandeis University -- April 1, 2016

Recent years have seen a mounting popular and critical fascination, at times apocalyptic, at times celebratory, with the "age of the computer." The rise of new technologies has prompted what has been described as a crisis of the human, necessitating a reconfiguration of the Enlightenment notion of the human as the rational and universal measure of all things. Posthumanism seeks to articulate these reconfigurations, but also to question their limitations. How is the rational human superseded by computer intelligence? How does the machine relate to the traditional dyad of body and mind? How can we reconcile the fact that digital and biotechnologies not only modify the way knowledge is produced but also our bodies themselves? In light of earlier historical technological advances which had profound impacts on human subjectivity, and indeed the human physiology, how justified is the view that the current challenges of technology are unprecedented in scale? For instance, is it warranted to view the introduction of the wheel, the printing press or the steam engine as less transformative than the current digital transformation? Does the debate surrounding these questions constitute such a radical break with the humanist conception of the human as initially expected? Most importantly, what is the critical productivity of examining the crisis of the human?

In this conference, we would like to foster debate over the extent to which the posthuman actually reconceptualizes the human subject. Literature evidences the fact that the relationship between humans and technology has been a primary concern across time. It has not only been thematized within many alternative literary genres like science fiction and the gothic but has also been prominent in most literary forms, modes, and genres. To investigate this relationship between technology and the human subject in its changing forms over time, we invite literature studies and interdisciplinary abstracts from a wide range of historical periods.

Please send abstracts of 200-300 words to posthuman2016@gmail.com by January 10, 2016.


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Topics may include, but are not limited to:

systems & networks (economic and social)
knowledge & data
technology (scientific, economic, industrial, medical, etc.)
evolutionary change & technological advance
narrative or other technologies of literature
technologies of the body, of gender/sex
body & embodiment
cognition (conscious & nonconscious)
human-animal relations
bio markets & genomics
late Capitalism
pre-digital technology & the human
print culture
digital culture
science fiction
the Gothic
the non-human (animals, aliens, monsters, zombies, vampires, ghosts, superheroes)
anthropocentrism & the anthropocene
the Other, othered bodies, othered beings
conditions of production (of the body, of technology, of products)
mind, machine, body
humanism, universalism
the supernatural
video games