Monster Theory 2.0: Remix, the Digital Humanities, and the Limits of Transgression

‘Is remix a monster, and digital humanities the means through which it is destined to bring down the old-fashioned, exclusionary, and hierarchical modes of humanities past?’

This is the question I ask at the beginning of my chapter in the new Routledge Handbook of Remix Studies and Digital Humanities, edited by Eduardo Navas, Owen Gallagher, and xtine burrough, and the answer is not as simple as it may seem. There are lots of great chapters in the book, divided into sections on ‘Epistemology and Theory’, ‘Accessibility and Pedagogy’, ‘Modularity and Ontology’, and ‘Aurality and Visuality’. My own chapter, on ‘Remix, the Digital Humanities, and the Limits of Transgression’, uses the metaphor of Frankenstein and his creature to suggest that the transgressive potential of remix and the digital humanities lies less in the form of these disciplines, and more in their practice: How they are allowed to intersect, evolve, and escape their traditional (anti)humanist foundations.

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Posthumanist Transmedia: David Blandy’s The World After (2019)

Cover of Transmedia Cultures published 2021This week my author copy of Transmedia Cultures arrived! It contains a series of “fresh” approaches to transmedia, “revealing the ever-increasing levels of entanglement they have within our real lives and with those we experience in other more imaginative or creative ones, bringing into focus exactly what is at stake in the «worlds» we choose to call our own”

My own contribution is a short chapter that frames David Blandy’s The World After (2019) and/as posthumanist transmedia. It follows on from an artist talk and a workshop I did with Blandy last year.

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Ask the Expert ‘Tea Talks’ Episode 6: Monsters and the Posthuman

They're there for their afternoon tea mug featured in video
The mug featured in said episode.

The University of Southampton has just launched a new series of Ask The Expert videos, called ‘Tea Talks’. These 20-to-30-minute videos feature Belinda Milestone, Teaching Fellow in the university’s Academic Centre for International Studies, as she interviews staff from WSA about their lives, careers, teaching, areas of specialism—and, of course, favourite cups of tea.

In the most recent episode I talk to Belinda about remix, monsters, and the posthuman over a cup of Chinese white tea:

You can watch the entire first season (six interviews) on YouTube. It includes discussions about festivals, advertising, luxury, fashion and sustainability, and more. Season two will hopefully be on the way very soon.

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Materials from Human Worlds Festival 2020

Image by 愚木混株

The Human Worlds Festival is the University of Southampton’s annual celebration of Humanities. This year, we explored Sylvia Wynter’s proposition that “humanness is no longer a noun. Being human is a praxis”. Together we explored different ways of examining and practicing our humanness. We also shared examples of how this praxis can change the world for the better.

The 2020 Human Worlds Festival might be over, but if you missed the event itself you can still enjoy many of the featured talks and workshops over on the festival YouTube channel.

From the ‘Being Human as Praxis’ programme of events, you can find links to the recordings for ‘Posthuman Laughter’, ‘Being Human from Aristotle to Deleuze’, and the ‘Computer Generated Novel Workshop’ below. The computer-generated novel produced through this workshop has also now been submitted to NaNoGenMo (link here; novel and code available for download at the bottom of the page). The novel is appropriately entitled The Year 2020: Now Oil the Joints of My Hand at That Moment That There is No Love.

Last but not least, you can find a recording of the ‘Speculative Futures of the Arts and Humanities, in Practice’ Roundtable as part of Hands-on-Humanities Day.

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Being Human as Praxis: Technology, Activism, Play

Image by 愚木混株

I’m very excited to present ‘Being Human as Praxis’, a series of events I have organised together with my teaching team at Winchester School of Art as part of Southampton’s ‘Human Worlds’ digital festival of the humanities (12-22 November 2020).

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Posthumanism in Practice (CfP)

Readers of this blog are warmly encouraged to consider submitting an abstract to this edited collection, which is seeking chapters by artists and makers, as well as scholars of all backgrounds. I have worked with both the collection editors (Matthew Hayler and Christine Daigle) and the series editors (Matthew Hayler and Danielle Sands) in relation to my work with the Critical Posthumanism Network, and highly recommend the experience!

“It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas.” This claim by Marilyn Strathem is quoted and given many variations in Donna Haraway’s Staying With the Trouble (2016). Ideas are assemblages that emerge from the various entanglements in which we exist and that constantly shape what we are and can be. Ideas spring from the dynamic material engagments humans have with one another and with the other beings and objects in our worlds. Therefore, our manner of engaging, the very practices we adopt to think, feel, experience, and theorise our entanglements, matter a great deal. As Karen Barad famously posited, “knowing does not come from standing at a distance and representing but rather from a direct material engagement with the world” (2007, 49): the ways in which we engage determine our knowing.

Critical posthumanism seeks to challenge contemporary anthropocentric and Humanist worldviews, and to establish new ways to conceive of ourselves and the environments and relationships in which we arc enmeshed. It has become clear that new thoughts and actions are needed as posthumanism demonstrates its usefulness. For this to be possible, we need to engage in thinking differently, shaking off old habits, embracing new methodologies, and rediscovering, or listening for the first time, to what has come before, or is going on right now, in other disciplines, cultures, and the actions of humans and non-humans. Putting posthumanism into practice, in short, demands exploratory, attentive, and speculative ventures that may, as yet, be unconventional in an academic setting, but generate new ideas and ways of acting. Posthumanism in practice also seeks to create ways and objects of knowing co-produced across the arts, humanities, and sciences, across sectors, disciplines, practitioners, and species. It asks: how is your practice, whatever your field of activity, transformed when enlivened by posthumanist ideas?

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‘Technologies of Gender’ Symposium (5 June 2019)

Are you interested in gender and/or technology? I am co-organising an interdisciplinary symposium next week at Winchester School of Art called ‘Technologies of Gender’. It aims to explore the ways in which technology shapes (and is shaped by) our constructions of gender identity, and also to offer a space in which scholars from different fields and faculties can share their perspectives on this topic. Speakers will include artists and industry professionals, as well as academics from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

The event is open to all, and lunch will be provided, so please do come along! Registration is free, but you are strongly advised to book ahead, so we can ensure there is enough food for everyone. Click here to access the registration portal.

You will find a brief description of the event and programme below. More information is available at the symposium website.

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Bioethics and the Posthumanities

In UK academia, opportunities for discussion with people working outside your discipline have become increasingly rare. Even rarer is the chance to speak about your research with people from other industries. This is why I was especially eager to attend the ‘Bioethics and the Posthumanities’ workshop on 28th March 2019, which included presentations from researchers in … Read more

CfP: ‘Neo-Victorianism and the Senses: Sensing the Past’

The University of Surrey (UK) is hosting a one-day conference on Friday 22nd March 2019. Their call for papers closes on 16th December 2018. Keynote Speaker: Professor Rosario Arias, University of Málaga ‘Every sensorial perception is at the same time past and present’ (Hamilakis, 2013). Since the publication of William A. Cohen’s seminal text Embodied: Victorian Literature and … Read more

The Beauty of Dead Animals

This article by Hilda Bouma originally appeared (in Dutch) in Het Financieele Dagblad on 15 April, 2017. It has been translated and reproduced here with the kind permission of the author and the paper. The copyright for this article is reserved by Het Financieele Dagblad, and it should not be reproduced without express written permission. To read the … Read more