The Nonhuman Turn – Conference

This looks wicked. Just check it out.

May 3-5, 2012
The Nonhuman Turn

“This conference takes up the “nonhuman turn” that has been emerging in the arts, humanities, and social sciences over the past few decades. Intensifying in the 21st century, this nonhuman turn can be traced to a variety of different intellectual and theoretical developments from the last decades of the 20th century:

“actor-network theory, particularly Bruno Latour’s career-long project to articulate technical mediation, nonhuman agency, and the politics of things (((“That blobject stole my tenure”)))

“affect theory, both in its philosophical and psychological manifestations and as it has been mobilized by queer theory (((“He’s gay, and I can’t be made to care any more”)))

“animal studies, as developed in the work of Donna Haraway, projects for animal rights, and a more general critique of speciesism (((“float like a butterfly, sting like the unknowable umwelt of a bat”)))

“the assemblage theory of Gilles Deleuze, Manuel DeLanda, Latour, and others (((Deleuze on vocals, DeLanda on lead guitar, Latour on bass, wait this assemblage has no drummer yet)))

“new brain sciences like neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence (((Artificial Intelligence at age 50+ somehow “newer” than, for instance, Rene Descartes’ brain science)))

“new media theory, especially as it has paid close attention to technical networks, material interfaces, and computational analysis (((We Swiss professors of media philosophy will forgive everything for this venture; really, you nonhuman Wisconsin guys should have at it hammer&tongs, and give my very best to downtown Madison)))

“the new materialism in feminism, philosophy, and marxism (((“Nonhuman Marxism” sounds awesome, and I bet you could rent that disused Trotsky compound in Mexico City very reasonably)))

“varieties of speculative realism like object-oriented philosophy, vitalism, and panpsychism (((my reaction to this assertion is best described as “dark euphoria”)))

“and systems theory in its social, technical, and ecological manifestations (((“NonHuman Ecology,” no farther away than the nearest Cretaceous-Tertiary fossil bed)))

“Such varied analytical and theoretical formations obviously diverge and disagree in many of their aims, objects, and methodologies. But they are all of a piece in taking up aspects of the nonhuman as critical to the future of 21st century studies in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. (((I can’t help but agree, and, furthermore, I’d love to see that T-shirt, as long as it’s not in 9pt type)))

“Running roughly parallel to this nonhuman turn in the past few decades has been the “posthuman turn” articulated by such important theoretical works as Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman and Cary Wolfe’s What Is Posthumanism? Thinking beyond the human, as posthumanism is sometimes characterized, clearly provides one compelling model for 21st century studies. But the relation between posthumanism and humanism, like that of postmodernism to modernism, can sometimes seem as much like a repetition of the same as the emergence of something different. (((But what if you’re ALREADY posthuman, and you realize that was a colossal mistake, and you’d much rather be nonhuman? “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”)))

“Thus, one of the questions that this conference is meant to take up is the relation between posthumanism and the nonhuman turn, especially the ways in which taking the nonhuman as a matter of critical, artistic, and scholarly concern might differ from, as well as overlap with, the aims of posthumanism. In pursuing answers to such questions, the conference is meant to address the future of 21st century studies by exploring how the nonhuman turn might provide a way forward for the arts, humanities, and social sciences in light of the difficult challenges of the 21st century. (((Let’s make that the “early 21st century,” as there’s bound to be a turn AFTER the posthuman turn and the nonhuman turn; circa 2033 or so, there’s bound to be a learned gathering of something beyond the Post and Non, and it would be great if we left them some canned food and tasty nitrogen-frozen finger-snacks)))

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Here is the conference website 

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