For Part One, Section One of the Final, I think that a passage from Shaw’s “Embodiment and the human from Dante through tomorrow” has a useful passage on p. 170. The passage is as follows: “At the core of the posthuman is the same hermeneutic feature that is key for humanity: the ability to understand the other” (Shaw 170). I think the passage generally sums up Shaw’s challenge of the necessity of embodiment by claiming that it does not matter so much what the posthuman looks like, as long as we can understand it in a human way. He uses Dante’s human interaction with the “trees” after his return from the afterlife as proof that the posthuman will not be about “corporeality but rather the personality and sustainability of their personality” (Shaw 170). Additionally, the passage includes a difficult vocabulary word in hermeneutic — a method of or principle of interpretation. Finally, I think this passage is especially relevant because the idea of an entity with a non-human appearance being interacted with as a human is one that we have repeatedly explored throughout the second half of the semester in werewolf texts such as “Bisclavret” and William of Palerne.
As we come to the end of the semester, it’s natural to look back, and draw conclusions about the course as a whole. The dominant notion rattling around my head recently has been the idea that we’ve always been posthuman, or, since this is clearly a paradox, that posthumanism as a term is flawed.
I found Zach’s presentation of his “enhanced” future self to be very interesting in both his perception of the direction science may be heading and his representation of the “ideal” qualities found in nature. The thing I found most interesting about it was the fact that he used natural elements (the best qualities from animals) to create his surgically modified version of himself. Most of the time when I think of the typical post human, especially as portrayed in popular fiction and media, I don’t think of natural elements being used to create a post human being. Continue reading
I thought that Smith’s presentation on Cindy Jackson and her many encounters with plastic surgery brought up many questions about humanity and the posthuman. When plastic surgery is taken to such extremes, as in Jackson’s case, the results are shocking. She looks completely unrecognizable as compared to her “former” self, and the class generally agreed that knowing that she’s undergone all of these surgeries is disturbing in itself and perhaps doesn’t allow us to look at her as we would a “normal” person. Continue reading
In this week’s creative presentations, there seemed to be a few presentations that dealt with the posthuman in ways that I had not considered. For me, I had always viewed the posthuman as a robotic man-cyborg blend that took full advantage of the technologies of today and possible technologies of the future. Continue reading
As we have been moving away from the current view of the posthuman and move into the medieval view of the human, I have been intrigued about the possibilities about the blend between human and animal.
After having just reviewed all of the course’s modern-day material for the midterm, I found it very interesting to note the parallels between the texts we began reading this week from the Middle Ages and the aforementioned modern ones we looked at in the first half of the semester. Whether these texts are examining mortality, ontology, religion or just what it means to be human, it becomes clear that many of the same questions have plagued humanity for years and years (like 800 years to be exact). For as much as we like to think we have advanced over time, the question now arises: are we really any “better” now then we were then? Continue reading
As we discussed the uncertainties that Hayles grappled with when discussing the posthuman, I felt myself experiencing these same uncertainties. I found it difficult to grasp the concept of the posthuman in a neat and tidy way. I agreed with Hayles that there are two sides to the viewing of this concept and I feel ambivalent to it as well.
I have to say first of all that I have been fairly pleased with the turn in class focus towards werewolves and medieval literature, mostly because I love these types of stories filled with curses, superstition, royalty, and courtly romance. For this class, it is especially interesting because I never thought of werewolves as particularly posthuman. Continue reading
In Graham’s chapter “In whose image?” she concentrates on how the Human Genome Project is attempting to unify the idea of a human. She argues that biology and genetic factors in particular are becoming the most important way in which to define the human. Continue reading