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Cyborgs in Posthuman Worlds

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Organizer: Margarita Saona

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The Cyborg inhabits a special place in our imagination that is primarily associated with science fiction. However, even before the term science-fiction itself came into use, mythology provided examples like Dedalus and Hephaestus tinkering with technology (if not necessarily cyber technology) to enhance or repair human bodies. Mary Shelley's Viktor Frankenstein manipulated "the instruments of life" to animate his creature, probably inspired by Giovanni Aldini's experiment in which he made a dead man's body twitch using electricity. Different from automatons and from A.I., cyborgs incorporate science and technology into bodies, thus erasing the material frontiers between humans and machines, between life and inanimate object.

            While the term appeared in literary criticism in the early 1970s, the concept was popularized by Donna Haraway's "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century" first published in 1985. In her manifesto, Haraway used the idea of the cyborg to put into question essentialism and binary conceptions of gender and humanity, but her highly theoretical work brought criticism both from disability scholars and from those who see in her arguments an understanding of self and body dominated by Western philosophy. Haraway herself has moved beyond her initial proposal in her theorization of the Chthulucene, but cyborgs -- real, fictional, and metaphorical-- are very much alive.

            The field of disability studies has long debated the representation of the cyborg and as recently as 2021 the book Embodiment and Everyday Cyborgs by Gill Haddow has explored the problem of technology and embodiment from a phenomenological perspective that requires lived experience. Far from the metaphorical realm or from the thought experiment, thousands of people around the world lead lives that incorporate artificial organs or body parts or can perform certain functions thanks to extracorporeal machines that become extensions of the body. Cyborgs in Posthuman Worlds is an invitation to discuss cyborgs in fiction and non-fiction from a variety of perspectives, including posthumanism, ecocriticism, crip theory, and life writing. The seminar will also welcome authors writing from technologically intervened bodies.
            More information on the ACLA Annual Meeting can be found through this link: 
To submit a paper proposal, please visit the ACLA website.

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