Questioning the Human: Posthuman accounts in Popular Culture
Two broadly anthropocene concerns—the ‘human’ condition along with the condition of this human planet, Earth—bear on all discursive practices central to contemporary areas of research in humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Both these concerns reconfigure ways in which humans have come to make sense of themselves and of the world which they share with other forms of life. The anthropocene—ramifications of Cartesian vision of human subject, the giver of meaning, that ultimately subdues all nature and co-existing life-forms—however is challenged by a posthuman turn in the latter half of 20th Century that trenchantly undercuts the foundations of humanism catapulting from the set boundaries established by the ideal of Enlightenment. The beginning of science fiction and its global appeal, dawning around the latter half of twentieth century, inspired a series of directors—Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Lana and Lily Wachowski, Andrew Niccol, Spike Jonze, Guillermo del Toro, Dennis Villeneuve, Alex Garland, and Timur Bekmambetov among many others—who have given shape to the desire, fear, and wonder of an amorphous future through this posthumanist turn.
Pramod K. Nayar characterizes posthumanism as a philosophical, political, and cultural approach that addresses the “…question of the human in the age of technological modification, hybridized life forms, new discoveries of the sociality (and ‘humanity’) of animals and a new understanding of ‘life’ itself.” Discursive and imaginative openings of the posthuman vision within the popular culture have disseminated this challenge across the collective imaginary of people through stories from varied media like novels, films, short stories, cartoons, comic books, television/web series, animation, musical albums, etc. In the wake of these representations, basic assumptions connected with human relationships, like building a community and connection between mind and body, are challenged in the face of imagined potentialities of this peculiar model of ‘human’ unconstrained by the forces of history as well as social and cultural constructs. As riveting as material innovations of humanity’s technological endeavours these narratives both disturb and alert us to re-imaginings of life and cosmos that are engineered in ecological, technological, and fantasized futures.
In its grand scheme, posthumanism most widely undertakes variations in human form flowing across species, inanimate things, and synthetically created life forms. Within the same sweep, it also addresses the increasingly tenuous understanding of life in its ‘normal’ form. Scientific development as the technological maelstrom of our civilization—bionics, machine learning, interactive computer interface augmenting possibilities of assimilating human within the domain of technology in a reified whole—has discredited humans’ faith in the established meaning of ostensible reality as well as larger metaphysical model of causality. Defamiliarizing us to the present and the overall structure of the universe as we know it, various representations of the posthuman within popular fiction deconstruct and reconstruct the exceptionalism of the anthropocene. Here space of popular literature, particularly science fiction (speculative fiction), emerges as a textual site that engages, ferments, and gives shape to transformative possibilities of posthuman world in terms of either utopia or dystopia. Representative motifs of this world, working at both material and symbolic level, assess the myriad faces of a projected future.
The current Call for Papers invites original contributions to tease out the nuances of posthumanist vision within popular culture. In light of the above concerns, interested scholars can consider following topics (but are not to be limited to them):
- Ethics of biotechnological interventions
- Narrative of truth claims in evolutionary sciences
- Operational Institutional surveillance
- Scope and limits of artificial intelligence
- Interaction with non-human others
- Quest to overcome singularity of death
- Technology/machine/animal: where is the human?
- Human inside the posthuman
- Tropes of posthumanism within popular culture
- Religion and posthumanism
- Multiple subjectivities within posthumanism
- Superheroes and posthumans
- Aliens and affective emotions
Only complete paper submissions will be considered for publication. The papers need to be submitted according to the latest guidelines of the MLA format. You are welcome to submit full length papers (not less than 3500 words) along with a 150 words abstract, list of keywords, bio-note, and word count (in a separate word doc) on or before 30th April, 2020. Please put the name of the CFP you are submitting for in the subject line. Although the authors are free to submit till the deadline, we really appreciate early submissions.
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