In the medieval texts covered in class, such as “Bisclavret”, and “Of the Prodigies of Our Times, and First of a Wolf which Conversed with a Priest”, the animal transformations are unusual but are accepted. It is the focus on speech and understanding that is one of the determining factors on the humanity of the werewolves encountered. Why did medieval writers focus on this aspect of humanity, and how does it tie in with other examples of the medieval post/human experience?
Post/Human Embodiment: Gender and Gender Identity
Gender is a complex topic, with our understanding of gender and sexuality still changing and evolving in the present day. I will be approaching the topic of post/human gender as a spectrum, where the clearly defined ‘male’ and ‘female’ of the present becomes much more complex when added to the idea of a virtual, robotic, or cyborg dominated future. From the class texts, I will be using The Surrogates and Battlestar Galactica as my supporting texts, with a variety of articles and books on the topic of gender to ask the question: how is gender and gender identity defined, how does culture impact that definition, and how the issue of embodiment affects a post/human virtual expression of self.
While writing this paper, my argument will be mainly focusing on the representation of gender ideals around men and women. In The Surrogates, the robotic selves could be any gender with any appearance, though many people like Detective Greer choose a surrogate that looks just like their actual self. When confronted with Mr. Clegg, the male operator of the female Surrogate Trudy, Greer and Ford are dismissive of his choice. This is interesting given that Cleggs’ employer or others around him didn’t seem to care. This is one look at a post/human gender representation that is less than positive, while many of my supporting articles like Burnhams’ “Gender Identity in a Post-Human Future: Glasshouse and Schild’s Ladder” address the positive impacts a virtual gender can have in terms of the mind and personality being more important than the gender of the representational ‘avatar’ of the person.
Another key focal point of my paper will be the roles of women and the representation of the female gender in the post/human future. This is where both Battlestar Galactica and George’s “Fraking Machines: Desire, Gender, and the (Post)Human Condition in Battlestar Galactica” will help showcase the issues of the female gender in the post/human. Here we have Six as the deadly Other, contrasted to Starbuck and other human females, yet both are little more than creatures designed to continue their species in many aspects. This focus on the ability to have children occurs throughout Battlestar Galactica, and is a modern-day issue of feminism that is carried into a post/human future. This ties in with other representations of women, either the socially inept nerd, or the sexy scientist, roles still common today that still are seen in many post/human works.
Eddie presents several interesting questions in the terms of post-human ideas, especially in the idea of modifying oneself. Does the use of NZT-48 make him more or less than human, given his almost supercomputer like abilities on the drug? Eddie starts off human like Nili, but has improved himself using chemicals rather than machinery. Is this form of post human easier to accept than cyborgs or does this make the viewer more uncomfortable despite the fact that Eddie chose, like Nili, to do this to himself?
I am not sure if anyone is familiar with the original Westworld, but it’s being remade and this article raises some points that people might enjoy about robots.
The article opens with alerting the reader to the “trivialisation” of robots in today’s society, where many don’t know or don’t seem to understand how robots are treated or how dependent society has become on robots. It is when they start to look like people that concerns are raised- how are we as a people supposed to react when someone can build a robot that looks like anyone they idolize, and then use it for their own personal gratification? Do you agree that this objectification of humanoid female robots as result of how women are treated and perceived in today’s society, or is this an inevitable result of the use of technology in the adult industry?