Annual EMC Conference | Limits of the Human | March 5, 2010
McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020), 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Cloning, organ farms, the completion of the Human Genome Project, recombinant DNA, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, and other manufactured life forms, all suggest that, depending on one’s point of view, the twenty-first century opens onto a horizon of radical possibilities for the future or cataclysmic end of what is meant by “human.” UCSB’s Early Modern Center Winter Conference, “Limits of the Human,” turns back to the early modern period to ask: before we were posthuman, how did we become human? How and why do early modern representations of hybrids, animals, monsters, anomalies, race, gender, and automata define what is human and separate out what is not? How do those things classified as non-human construct, reflect, or refract humanness? What innovations in technology, botany, labor equipment, law, and mathematical notation helped to calcify the boundaries of the human? How did Cartesian, Newtonian and Leibnizian systems of the world shape the conditions that Michel Foucault argues, “made it possible for the figure of man to appear”? In what ways were the “limits” always permeable, and how did they invite transgression and mutation? The EMC’s one-day interdisciplinary conference provides a forum to explore early modern literary and cultural responses to the issues and questions that helped delineate the limits of being human.
The conference will consist of panel discussions, as well as keynote talks by Bruce Smith ( Dean’s Professor of English, University of Southern California) and Richard Nash (Professor of English, Indiana University).