2009-2010 Theme:
Limits of the Human

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 demise of the human. The 2009-2010 EMC Theme, “The Limits of the Human,” turns back to the early modern period to ask: before we were posthuman, how did we become human? How do early modern representations of monsters, anomalies, race, gender, automata define what is human and separate out what is not? 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 did they invite transgression and mutation? The EMC theme provides a forum to explore these and many other questions at a crucial moment in the formation of the “human.”

2009-2010 Events

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