In recent years, scholars of different fields have turned their gaze to the complex relations between humans and non-humans. Theorists and thinkers of ecocriticism, animal ethics, queer studies, disability studies and numerous other disciplines have challenged the humanist notions that place (certain kinds of) human beings above all the “other” creatures, with whom we share our world. In the meantime, our material existence has been reconfigured by the human genome project, in-vitro meat, custom-made pharmacology, bioart and other scientific developments. Consequently, (re)definitions and (re)imaginations of humans and non-humans have gained new emphasis in cultural studies, as have the complex material-social entanglements of the production and reception of art and media. As our culture becomes saturated with technology and we begin to notice the consequences of human experiments and exploitation of nature, these questions of human‒non-human relations become more urgent by the day.
In the interdisciplinary seminar RECONFIGURING HUMAN AND NON-HUMAN: TEXTS, IMAGES AND BEYOND, we explore how humans and non-humans are represented, (re)imagined ‒ or, indeed, remade ‒ across arts and media. What political and ethical implications do cultural texts and images of human and non-human embodiments have? Can we really re-imagine non-humans beyond the humanist conceptions of human supremacy? How are art and media productions created in the complex material-social relations that encompass the spheres of both human and non-human? Can we step outside our limited perspectives by creating or engaging with human and non-human characters?
We invite papers on topics that include (but are not limited to):
- boundaries and relations between human and animal, organic and inorganic, animate and inanimate, living and non-living in art and media
- definitions and ontology of (fictional) characters; identification with or affective responses to human and non-human characters and figures
- (representations of) human and non-human embodiments in art and media; aliens, monsters, cyborgs and the “other others” of speculative fiction
- unnatural narratology; human and non-human narrators and narratees
- posthumanism and ecocriticism across art and media; reconfiguring the ethics of the non-human through texts, images and artistic practices
- human encounters with technology in or through art and media; intersections of art and science; bioart
- disabled and enhanced bodies in art and media; body modification and body as a medium
The seminar will take place at the University of Jyväskylä, Central Finland on 29‒30 of October. We are now looking for academics and artists of all levels and fields to present their papers and to participate in the international, interdisciplinary discussion the seminar aims to facilitate. The event is particularly suitable for researchers of art, culture, media and (post)humanist philosophy but abstracts from all academic and artistic fields are welcome.
Please email your abstract of 200‒300 words and information on your institutional affiliation by August 9, 2015. Panel proposals (200‒300 words, 3‒4 panelists) are also welcome. We will contact all respondents shortly after the deadline. Should you have any questions, you are welcome to email the organizing committee.