CALL FOR PAPERS
REPRESENTATION IN THE TIME OF THE POSTHUMAN: TRANSHUMAN ENHANCEMENT IN 21ST CENTURY STORYTELLING
16th International Conference on Contemporary Narratives in English
University of Zaragoza, Spain
May 29-31, 2019
The drive towards personal progress may be considered intrinsic to the human species. Whether intellectual, emotional, spiritual or bodily, perfection –or, less ambitiously, improvement– has always been pursued by different means like education, cultural development, meditation, or physical exercise, to name a few. What seems to have changed in recent decades is the tools available in the race for individual enhancement, given the rapidly evolving fields of science and technology as applied to human desires to enlarge one’s memory and intelligence, lengthen one’s life span, or create genetically stronger and healthier children.
This interest in human progress is key to understand Transhumanism, a cultural and philosophical movement that sees in reason, science and technology the means to overcome human limitations in both our bodies and minds (Bostrom, More, Pearce, Kurzweil). Genetically modified and technologically enhanced humans are transhumans in constant development towards the posthuman, a condition which would radically exceed the capacities of present humans and would entail extreme physiological, genetic and neurological change.
This inherently optimistic movement contrasts with Critical Posthumanism (Badmington, Braidotti, Graham, Hayles, Wolfe, Haraway, Herbrechter), which also sees the human as non-fixed and mutable but which questions anthropocentrism, human exceptionalism and the centrality of the subject in the Anthropocene. They see transhumanism as an intensification of the Enlightenment concept of “Man” as the measure of all things.
The aim of this conference is to explore both how fiction in the Anglo-American sphere has addressed the question of what it means to be human and also how the literary field itself has changed in the time of the 4th industrial revolution (Floridi, Schwab), in which digital information and communication technologies have become essential and in which the analog gives way to the digital.