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Blade Runner: 2049 and Biotechnology

Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), the sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), explores many of the same topics, including the development of advanced biotechnology and the (in)ability to distinguish between humans and bioengineered replicants. Like Scott’s Blade Runner, Villeneuve’s 2049 considers how ‘human’ and ‘nonhuman’ identity is constructed. Because replicants’ physical appearances do […]

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Golding’s Lord of the Flies, The Inheritors, and Human and Nonhuman Interconnectedness

William Golding’s novels are famous for their bleak depiction of the human condition in which violence, dark urges, and primordial egotism prevail. The author, however, made it clear in his Nobel Lecture that he is ‘a universal pessimist but a cosmic optimist’,[1] and while his opinion of the human as such might not be a […]

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Microbial Life

The science and philosophy writer Dorion Sagan, son of Lynn Margulis,[1] began his 2011 lecture in the Anthropological Society’s series The Human is More than Human[2] by quoting from Claire Folsome’s entry for ‘Microbes’ in the 1985 book The Biosphere Catalogue. Folsome describes a thought experiment in which an alien drops down through the ceiling and […]

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Hamlet, Shakespeare and Posthumanism

‘… they imitated humanity so abhominably.’ (III.2.34)[1]   The affinity between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and some of the existential questions raised by contemporary posthumanism, despite the four centuries that lie between them, is striking. From the beginning of the play, the question of identity, and of the identity of the human more specifically, is the main […]

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Musical Atmospheres

For critical posthumanism, musical atmospheres are a promising field of study. ‘Immersed in sound’, as Frances Dyson argues with reference to the new media of virtual reality, the Internet, and their auditive precursor technologies, ‘the subject loses its self, and, in many ways, loses its sense’ in indeterminate situations that undermine the classical subject-object split […]

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Romantic Self and Posthumanism

The Romantic period develops a particular construction of the self, a self with a privileged interiority. Posthumanist criticism flattens this interiority, pushing our critical attention away from the artist’s expression of internal feelings to material relations between bodies in landscapes.  Such a posthumanist approach follows several threads of posthumanism. It draws from what Object Oriented […]

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Xenotransplantation, Form-of-Life and Literary Fiction

Identity questions over the borders of the human are complicated in novels such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), Ninni Holmquist’s The Unit (2006) and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series (2007–2014), which explore the role of new biology, and new life forms, in future societies.[1] In these texts, the survival of the human depends […]

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Bio art and the end of philosophy (Feuerstein & Hegel)

In his Aesthetics, Hegel declared the end of art. Art is ‘on the side of its highest destiny, a thing of the past’.[1] For Hegel, art satisfied the same spiritual needs as philosophy: to disclose meaning and truth. Art revealed meaning and truth within the world of appearances by creating sensuous existents, rather than elevating thought […]

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High-Tech Orientalism (Cyberpunk & Race)

‘The human is constantly created through the jettisoning of the Asian/Asian American other as robotic, as machine-like and not quite human […]’. These words, lifted from the extract of Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s essay ‘Race and/as Technology or How to Do Things to Race’ below, point to the habitually unexamined racialised and colonial structures of […]

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