Posthuman Gothic (Published Collection) - Call for Chapters
The posthuman intersects with the Gothic in a number of interesting ways, which involve both narrative and critical discourses. On the one hand, Gothic aesthetics are frequently employed in expressing cultural fears of techno-scientific progress and its posthuman creations, as contemporary popular culture is teeming with posthuman literary and cinematic monsters and swamped by panicmongering media stories of out-of-control artificial intelligence and zombifying pandemics. On the other hand, Gothic criticism - often concerned with the exploration of liminal or abject, monstrous others, and how they challenge the human's sense of being and identity - offers useful approaches to critically frame these cultural fears and issues.
Recent studies of the posthuman and posthumanism by Cary Wolfe (2010), Rosi Braidotti (2013) and Stefan Herbrechter (2013) address the posthuman as a set of discourses and theoretical frameworks rather than an ontological category. The arguments they explore draw on conceptions of monstrosity, liminality and the contested boundaries between the human and its others. As Herbrechter argues, what is at stake in the recent theoretical reflection on the posthuman, monstrous other, "is the transgression of boundaries with its associated risks and pleasures and, hence, the nightmarish, the haunting, which nevertheless needs to be taken more seriously than some purely aesthetic, 'dark romanticism'." (Herbrechter 2013, 86) And Braidotti discusses the boundary between living and dead outside and beyond the human: "posthuman vital politics shifts the boundaries between life and death and consequently deals not only with the government of the living, but also with practices of dying. […] Bodily politics has shifted, with the simultaneous emergence of cyborgs on the one hand and renewed forms of vulnerability on the other." (Braidotti, 2013, 111-2) Gothic criticism, already concerned with ways of dying and liminal creatures dwelling on the boundaries, can make useful contributions to this debate: ghosts, vampires, zombies, reanimated and technological monsters are expressions of cultural anxieties similar or frequently identical to those evoked by the posthuman.
Gothic literature and criticism have been concerned with questions of identity and physical and psychological integrity since the turn of the 19th century, with genre-defining texts like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) posing questions that have only become more relevant in the context of the 21st-century's scientific possibilities. As Fred Botting has argued, "Frankenstein, an inaugural and persistent myth of modern monstrosity, continues to inform and disturb popular fascinations and scientific research: its currency, its monstrous metaphorical resonance, when associated with genetics and technology, raise far-reaching questions concerning the imbrication of human norms, esthetic productions, scientific power and any vision of a future." (Botting 2003, 339)
Recent interest in the posthuman and its cultural ramifications focuses on areas, issues and concepts which could benefit from further critical discussion of the intersections of the posthuman and the Gothic, especially in view of some of the central questions of posthuman criticism: how does the advent of the posthuman reframe and challenge cultural perceptions of what it means to be human and how to approach posthumanism from a contemporary critical point of view which is still essentially based on the enlightenment tradition of humanist thought.
The proposed volume seeks to contribute a new angle to this discussion by bringing together a number of articles on the intersections of the Gothic and the posthuman in literature, film and other medial and cultural expressions, exploring the critical possibilities arising at the intersection of these fields.
Possible topics, which could be explored include, but are not limited to:
* The Post(-)human as Gothic
* Posthuman monstrous others
* Posthuman monsters in Gothic text/films/other media
* The domestication of the monstrous in/and the posthuman
* Posthuman readings of Gothic texts and vice versa
* Posthuman readings of specific monsters (vampires, zombies, aliens, lab-created hybrids, etc.)
* Posthuman monstrous corporeality / corporeal transgressions / hybrids / abject bodies
* The promises of monsters and monstrous becomings
* Monstrous textuality / mediality
* The Gothic and the (Post-)Humanities
Please send abstracts of 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 November, 2014. Finished chapters will be due by 1 February, 2015.