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Meaning

Working through questions of human/nonhuman similarity and difference from a critical posthumanist perspective involves rethinking concepts of meaning. Meaningful experience is widespread throughout the nonhuman animal world, ranging far beyond its iterations in human thought and language. There are significant differences, however, among forms of meaning-making, and these differences have to be accounted for within […]

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New Materialism(s)

“New materialism” is a term coined in the 1990s to describe a theoretical turn away from the persistent dualisms in modern and humanist traditions whose influences are present in much of cultural theory.[1] The discourses catalogued under new materialism(s) share an agenda with posthumanism in that they seek a repositioning of the human among nonhuman […]

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Agency

  In a newly published textbook on gender studies and materialism, agency is defined as “the ability to act in such a way as to produce particular results”.[1] The entry explains that while most social theory attributes agency only to humans, posthumanist theorists tend to emphasise the agency and responsiveness of nonhuman and matter. The […]

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European Posthumanism

by Stefan Herbrechter, Manuela Rossini, and Ivan Callus An earlier and longer version of this entry was first published in the European Journal of English Studies; available here. It might at first glance seem that the phrase ‘European posthumanism’ is a contradiction in terms. Is Europe not that venerable, somewhat ‘nostalgic’ entity or idea that has never […]

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Animal

  The interdisciplinary field of animal studies has grown in tandem with, but often in opposition to, popular and technophilic conceptions of posthumanism and the posthuman. The idea that ‘the human’ as we know it might be made increasingly obsolete by artificial intelligence has been around since the 1970s, when the literary critic Ihan Hassan […]

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Deleuze, Gilles

Materialism without Matter: Deleuze If there is a commonplace among philosophies of nature, it’s that the physical world is unthinking: incapable, that is, of thinking its own eventual becoming. Not only in its everyday sense but also in the clichés of “high” theory, sense is bracketed from sensation, psyche from soma. Sense, the story goes, […]

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Plants

  In Plant Studies, especially its critical branch, the most recent empirical evidence is used to show the sophisticated ways that plants go about their lives. Challenging traditional zoocentric perceptions of plants as passive objects, such research reveals that plants are dynamic and sentient beings capable of responding to environmental stimuli such as touch, temperature, […]

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Literary Modernism

  It is important, first of all, to distinguish between modernism as a field of academic study and modernism as a particular moment in cultural history. To speak of a posthuman turn in modernism is in one sense to invite reflection on a historical event, to posit the emergence of a new paradigm, a new […]

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Critical Posthumanism

  This entry originally appeared in Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova, eds., Posthuman Glossary (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). Reproduced with permission. Critical posthumanism is a theoretical approach which maps and engages with the “ongoing deconstruction of humanism”.[1] It differentiates between the figure of the ‘posthuman’ (and its present, past and projected avatars, like cyborgs, monsters, […]

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Literature

Suppose that critical posthumanism invites us to say goodbye to ‘literature’ and to welcome it back in the same moment. So, “for centuries”, observes Jonathan Franzen, “ink in the form of printed novels has fixed discrete, subjective individuals within significant narratives”.[1] Humanist subjectivity and exceptionalism were instantiated in the ink and print cultures of ‘letters’, continuous […]

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