Call for Papers: Collection on Altered Carbon

deadline for submissions: 
November 25, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Aldona Kobus, Lukasz Muniowski

Call for Papers – Altered Carbon


Abstracts are sought for a collection of philosophical essays related to the Netflix Original series Altered Carbon (2018). Since season two starts shooting in October and is supposed to be released in the first half of 2019, we feel that a collection of academic articles about the first season would be in order around the same time. One acclaimed academic publisher has already expressed interest in the collection.

Please note that we are referring to the live action series and not the 2002 novel written by Richard K. Morgan.


Altered Carbon is a substantially relevant series, which takes on a plethora of current issues, from the critique of neoliberalism, through the ethical aspects of biotechnology, up to the issues regarding thanatology. The Netflix-produced series provokes questions about what it means to be human in a world in which death basically does not exist, and the limits of defining the construction of identity, be it gender, sexual and ethnical. Primarily, it is a show about the relationship between the mind, the body and the machine. Altered Carbon stays true to cyberpunk’s ethos, as it metaphorically presents a reality dominated by consumerism, where one’s life expectancy is dependent on their economical status.


The series can also be seen, similarly to Snowpiercer (2013), Ghost in the Shell (2017) or Blade Runner 2049 (2017), as a vital element of the cyberpunk renaissance. Is this mainstream revival a sign of cyberpunk’s transgressive aspects, reminiscent of the novels/graphic novels/movies of the 70s and 80s, or is it the opposite and precisely the genre’s failure to successfully criticize modernity is the reason why it was embraced by today’s movie studios, directors and audiences?


Altered Carbon can be seen as a show advocating for transhumanism, as well as a satire aimed at its basic assumptions, especially stark anthropocentrism. It is a fascinating subject for a scholarly reflection, furnishing ideas that can be analyzed through the lenses of: cognitive science, posthumanism, postgenderism, psychoanalysis, or the theories of social control. It also problematizes the cyberpunk genre, most notably the extreme presentations of violence and sexualization.


We expect abstracts that will analyze (but do not have to be limited to):

the relationship between mind and body,

the relationship between body and identity,

the way technology influences individual and social lives,

gentrification and social inequality,

biopolitics and government control,

the psychological aspects of “immortality” and its influence on individuals, families and society,

how Altered Carbon functions in the context of cyberpunk as a genre gaining more and more popularity in the modern popular culture.




The Mind/Machine/Body Relationship

  • "Your body is not who you are" – to what degree do our bodies influence our sense of self?

  • "Someone stole those stacks. They used to be people" – the relationship between the body and the brain/DHF in the philosophy of Descartes

  • "Put your wife in me" – bodily gentrification

  • "Whatever it means to be human, Eddie... you are" – the spirit in the machine

  • "A man who doesn't love isn't really a man" – love as a purely physical emotion (Ortega and Ryker/Kovacs)

  • A criminal mind in a snake’s body – the rejection of bodily boundaries; abuse of power through bodily modifications

  • Life outside of the body – bodies are said to be disposable, yet life is impossible without them (Ortega’s abuela)


Biopolitics and the Control of Bodies

  • 653 – a reality where victims are actually able to come back and tell what happened to them

  • Victim restitution – victims return in government-sponsored sleeves, usually those of dead prisoners (biopolitics)

  • Sentences served in Stacks – Altered Carbon penalty system in the context of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish


Technological Influence on Individuals and Society

  • "Technology advances, but humans don't" – Altered Carbon as a satire aimed at transhumanism

  • Stacks as Leibniz’s Monads – true, eternal, individual

  • Ortega's robotic limb - fyborgs vs. cyborgs

  • Miriam Bancroft and her sexually-oriented modifications

  • Cross-sleeving – gender, sexuality and racial identity in the world of disposable bodies


Altered Carbon and Psychoanalysis

  • "The fact that people don't have to die anymore, that's a miracle” - how the inevitability of death influences the human experience

  • Reproduction in an immortal society – stuck in permanent adolescence

  • “Til death do us a part” – the keys to a successful Meth marriage

  • Society without consequences – Meths as beings ruled by the pleasure principle

  • “Head in the Clouds” and when fantasy becomes Real (Lacan)

  • "Hallucination, displacement, retreat" – is mental torture more humane than physical?



  • "Are you a believer?" – the basics of neo-catholicism

  • "God is dead, we've taken his place" – the sustainability of capitalism

  • "I'm not that pathetic little girl anymore" – female characters and the feminist agenda

  • Quellcrist Falconer as the ideological core of the series – the reactionary ideology of her revolution

  • The relationship between sexuality and brutalization – violent fantasies depicted in the series

  • Sexual violence as an intrinsic element of the cyberpunk genre

  • Detective Kovacs – neo-noir disguised as cyberpunk



Please submit abstracts of about 300 words with brief bios to:

Abstracts due: November 25th, 2018

Notification of accepted abstracts: December 3rd, 2018

First draft of papers due: February 1st, 2019.

Final papers: 3,000 – 4,500 words


Aldona Kobus ( – doctoral student of philology at the Nicolas Copernicus

University in Toruń, Poland.

Łukasz Muniowski ( – doctoral student of American Literature at

the University of Warsaw, Poland.