The Human and the Posthuman: Postgraduate and Early Career Workshop

  • July 10, 2015
  • University College London

Have we come to the end of humanism? The speed of societal and cultural change has prompted scholars to reflect on conceptions of the human and on what might come after humanism. This interest in the post/human is reflected in discourses such as psychoanalysis and feminism as well as animal studies, environmental philosophy, and object oriented ontology. Newer areas of thought have not only unsettled the notion of a stable, sovereign subject but also re-examined ideas of intimacy, agency, the body, reason, and consciousness. The posthuman critique seeks to expose universalist claims made in the name of the human; at the same time, it questions the boundaries between human and non-human subjectivity. According to some scholars, the posthuman is “one of the most important concepts in contemporary literary theory, science studies, political philosophy, the sociology of the body, cultural and film studies, and even art theory”.

We believe the time is ripe for an interdisciplinary exploration of this most important of concepts. In particular, we propose that historically informed perspectives give us the opportunity to arrive at a more theoretically rigorous exploration of the posthuman. Ancient cultures present views of animate and inanimate life that problematize contemporary assumptions about the human. Do thoughts exist without a thinker? How should we understand the relationship between the the animal and the human, or the body and the soul? How does the idea of the prosthesis complicate our understanding of the body? These are questions that concerned the ancients no less than they vex us today. The Greeks and Romans wrote extensively about the human and its other, and about the technologies, fantasies, and limits of what they termed bios or zoe. Our workshop suggests that a fruitful interrogation of the posthuman may emerge from ancient cultures, not least since many of the features that were central to humanism emerged in response to discussions that occurred in Greco-Roman antiquity itself.




Location: Haldane Room, Wilkins Building

11.15 am

11.30 am-12.30 pm
Session 1

Richard Hutchins (Princeton)
“Interspecies Ethics and Collaborative Survival in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura
Respondent: Luke Richardson (UCL)

12.30-1.30 pm

1.30-2.30 pm
Session 2

Hannah Silverblank (Oxford)
“Posthuman Heroics: Creating the Superhuman through the Monster in Greek Myth”
Respondent: Emma Greensmith (Cambridge)

2.30-3.30 pm
Session 3

Marco Carbone (UCL)
“Leda and the Swan and Howard the Duck: Animality, Post-humanity, Obscenity”
Respondent: Chella Ward (Oxford)

Location: Gordon House, Room 106

3.45-4.15 pm
Tea & Coffee

4.15-5.15 pm
Session 4

Ellisif Wasmuth (Cambridge)
Title “Socratic Self-knowledge and Transhumanism”
Respondent: Sam Cooper (Princeton)

5.15-6 pm
Round-table Discussion
Chair: Brooke Holmes (Princeton)

6-7 pm

7.30 pm
Sagar Restaurant