Are you interested in critical posthumanism and the creative arts? Did you see images from our zine-making workshop and wish you’d been able to join us? Now is your chance! Our next Creative Posthumanism workshop will be on Wednesday, 1st June 2022, from 2-4pm at Winchester School of Art. This week, our theme (and the focus of our collaborative making project) is ‘Scrapbooking the Wasteland—A Posthumanist Terror Management Theory Toolkit’.
Zine Workshop: Being Human under Technocapitalism
Last week we ran a pilot event in the Creative Posthumanism project, specially for the postgraduate research (PhD) community at Winchester School of Art (WSA). The event was facilitated by me and Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, an artist, artist’s book-maker, and fellow bibliophile who has also worked with me on several previous zine workshops. The theme? ‘Being Human under Technocapitalism’.
The plan was to create something collaboratively, using the creative process to think differently about topics we might historically have only considered academically or through critical writing. The exact format of the zine was decided on the day, once we could see how many participants we had and could discuss what everyone felt comfortable with. In the end we had a nice small group of around six people, which meant we could all speak to each other and work together around the same table.
In the first part of the session we introduced participants to the process of making an individual zine, including the work of folding and cutting the paper and the types of things you might have as topics or content. We also introduced them to the materials we had assembled: magazines, patches, bits of washi tape, stickers, and other decorations.
This summer I’ll be launching a series of pilot workshops as part of the Creative Posthumanism project, including sessions on zine-making, scrapbooking, and performance art. More news on these sessions will follow soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share a little bit about the rationale behind the project. Humanistic principles underpin key discourses in biology (we are individual entities), psychology (we are individual actors), economics (we are rational actors), law (we are responsible for our actions), art (we are individual authors of human stories), AI research (the goal is to produce computers which “think like us”), medicine (there is a clear idea of a healthy human which we should aim to remain in line with), and ecology (the earth should be optimised for human habitation). In many of these areas, however, the centrality of such thought is being questioned. Critical posthumanism is an academic field of inquiry that deconstructs the human (and humanitarian) impacts of these liberal humanist systems and institutions, particularly in the ways that they have been accelerated and exacerbated by advancing technologies.
Palgrave Handbook of Critical Posthumanism
We (founding members of the Critical Posthumanism Network and editors of the Genealogy of the Posthuman) are excited to share that our new co-edited Palgrave Handbook of Critical Posthumanism is now in production! This handbook boasts 54 chapters on figurations and prefigurations of the posthuman, posthumanist practices and methodologies, processes of institutional and disciplinary transformation, and more.
Around 30 chapters are already available online, with more coming very soon. A hard copy will follow later this year.
Waste Age: What can design do?
It’s been almost a year since I’ve ventured out to a museum exhibition, and more than two since I had the chance to catch one in London. But with delayed research projects on salvage and upcycling kicking off again, and a small but very welcome early career grant from the University of Southampton’s Humanities Faculty, February seemed like the time to take another trip to the Design Museum to visit its exhibition on ‘Waste Age: What can design do?’
Autonomous: Bioethics and/as Intellectual Property
How might posthumanist approaches illuminate current issues in bioethics? This is the central question asked throughout Bioethics and the Posthumanities, a new edited collection published with Routledge Focus. The book comes out of a series of workshops for researchers and policymakers that took place back in 2019.
Do the Monster Mash: Universal’s “Classic Monsters” and the Industrialization of the Gothic Transmedia Franchise
Almost two years after I announced I was writing it, my chapter in Gothic Mash-Ups: Hybridity, Appropriation, and Intertextuality in Gothic Storytelling is now out with Rowman & Littlefield (EU) / Lexington Books (USA)!
My chapter, ‘Do the Monster Mash: Universal’s “Classic Monsters” and the Industrialization of the Gothic Transmedia Franchise’, takes the Universal Monsters as a prime case of early Gothic transmedia and mashup, as well as highlighting the importance of unoriginality to Gothic storytelling more broadly.
‘Guarding the Love’: A Transmedia Story
As I gear up for a new semester of teaching, I’m revising and looking back over materials from last year (in truth much less than a year due to a COVID-delayed start to teaching).
It is always a pleasure to look back over student work, in particular from the creative-critical module I teach on transmedia storytelling. Last year my students produced three transmedia stories, in an unusually short time frame. In groups students are tasked with telling a variety of different stories in different media, framed within the same universe or around the same set of characters. Students also have to think about the ‘why’ of the story, and how it is driven by a particular cause or project. This year’s projects included themes of anti-colonialism, cross-cultural education, and building body confidence.
Salvaging Utopia: Lessons for (and from) the Left in Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017), The Deep (2019), and Sorrowland (2021)
I’ve been thinking a lot about how writing can make a difference in the world, and even more so about what academic writing has to do with it. Though barely a start, some of my own reflections and research on this topic are now available in the form of this Open Access (i.e. free) article on activism, Rivers Solomon, and the utopian work of salvage. The article is part of a special issue on ‘Post-Utopia in Speculative Fiction’, available through the MDPI Journal Humanities, which examines various histories and ways forward for utopia in contemporary SF/F.
‘Embodying Contagion’ Roundtable (14 July 2021)
Are you interested in the politics of contagious bodies and their representation in contemporary culture? Join us for a free roundtable discussion on Wednesday, 14 July 2021, from 4:00-5:30pm BST.
Bringing scholars from cultural and media studies into conversation with scholars from the medical humanities and social sciences, this roundtable event aims to give readers a fuller picture of the viropolitics of contagious bodies in contemporary global culture. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions and share your own perspective on the topic.
You can register for this free online event through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/embodying-contagion-roundtable-and-book-launch-tickets-158699064173