This writing-intensive course will study various articulations of the concept of “the posthuman” -- the controversial idea that humans might transcend their biology or that other forms of advanced intelligence might supplant humans. This debate has occurred in genres and disciplines as diverse as science fiction, feminist and queer theory, bioethics, political science, cybernetics, theology, ecocriticism, and animal studies.
Though we will study debates about the posthuman in all of these areas, this course will primarily focus on imaginative literature, film, and graphic novels that have tried to imagine the possibility or visualize a concept of the posthuman. We will also consider the conceptually related but distinct effort to think about the possibility of a "posthumanities" that radically changes the focus of humanistic inquiry and literary study in the present.
Authors we might read include Mary Shelley, H. G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Katherine Dunn, Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, Paolo Bacigalupi, and J. M. Coetzee. The course will culminate with a research-based argumentative paper intervening into some key aspect of the debate about posthumanism.