Working Posthumanism: Changing collaborative practice by rethinking the human

Danielle SandsMCRm

Posthumanism, or thinking beyond humanism and the human, represents an increasingly prevalent if disparate collection of stances underpinning human action in art practice, science, technology, and industry, medical care, social and cultural life, psychological and spiritual experience, human-animal and human-ecological relationships, political policy, and disciplinary work in academia, including training and pedagogy. In fact, expert work in each of these areas is often already shaped by thinking which is demonstrably posthumanistic, even if that term would, as yet, never be used to describe the approach taken.

Posthumanism is more than an academic theory or philosophy in this interdisciplinary context—it is also expressed in practice, in the very act / work of cultural production. When knowledge is communicated from one domain to another, from one area of expertise to another, however, the most radical insights can often be lost to a residual humanism underpinning public discourse. This is perhaps unsurprising; for various reasons humanism, or some form of anthropocentrism, still dominates human thinking and perception. Humanism, not posthumanism, often seems to be the language of interdisciplinary communication, particularly (but not only) in the West. How might this change, and why would it be worth changing?

The presentation begins with a brief introduction to posthumanism, and to the speakers’ own research and industry networks. We will then outline ongoing plans for collaboration between researchers, practitioners, and institutions in (and outside of) the UK that are invested in exploring and explaining the implications of posthumanism. We are especially interested in focusing on the real-world impact of posthumanist perspectives, and engagement with currently disinterested groups. We aim to promote, produce, and support work which puts posthumanistic thinking into action, with the hope of demonstrating new possibilities opened up by collaborative thinking and/or working in a way which deploys or builds off of a posthumanistic stance.

Dr Matt Hayler (University of Birmingham)
Matt is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Digital Cultures at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Changing the Phenomena of Technology (Palgrave 2015).

Dr Megen de Bruin-Molé (University of Southampton) 
Megen is Teaching Fellow in Digital Media Practice at the University of Southampton, Winchester School of Art. She is the author of Gothic Remixed: Monster Mashups and Frankenfictions in 21st-Century Culture (Bloomsbury 2019).

Dr Danielle Sands (Royal Holloway, University of London) 
Danielle is Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Culture at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of Animal Writing: Storytelling, Selfhood and the Limits of Empathy (EUP 2019).

Fri 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm