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Hall Center for the Humanities events to explore the posthuman condition

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LAWRENCE – The Hall Center for the Humanities’ Fall Faculty Colloquium is designed to enliven the intellectual atmosphere of the University of Kansas and contribute to the interdisciplinary training of faculty. This fall, four KU faculty members and four graduate students will convene under the leadership of directors Allan Hanson, professor emeritus of anthropology, and John Symons, professor of philosophy, to explore the topic of “The Posthuman?”

The faculty participants in the colloquium are Jennifer Foster, lecturer in Spanish & Portuguese; James Gunn, professor emeritus of English; Christopher Ramey, assistant professor of psychology, and Paul Scott, associate professor of French. The graduate student participants are Ramon Alvarado, philosophy; Anthony Boynton, English; Aaron Long, English, and Christina Lord, French & Italian.

The group will explore the question of whether we are morphing into something beyond the human. Today's bewildering onslaught of technology supplements — and often replaces — what were once defining features of humanity. Or is the whole idea of the posthuman misguided? Artificial intelligence may be fundamentally different from human intelligence, a supplement rather than a competitor. All current technological developments may signal nothing other than an unfolding actualization of what it is to be human. In a word, this colloquium raises the question of whether a posthuman condition exists. If not, why not? If so, what is it (or will it be) like?

The colloquium directors determine the theme, provide intellectual leadership and guidance, act as coordinators and facilitate feedback to participants on their presentations. The participants each present a paper and contribute to the discussion. Past colloquia have covered topics on global citizenship, colonizing knowledge, imagining the modern and future city, and consciousness.

Although the colloquium participants will guide the readings and responses, faculty and staff interested in the topic are invited to attend meetings. Starting Aug. 25, the Posthuman colloquium will meet at 10 a.m. most Fridays in the Hall Center Seminar Room. A detailed schedule of each meeting is available on the Hall Center website calendar and in the weekly e-bulletins.

In addition to the regular meetings, the colloquium will host guest speaker Katherine Hayles, James B. Duke Professor of Literature at Duke University. She teaches and writes on the relations of literature, science and technology in the 20th and 21st centuries. She will present a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 in the Adams Alumni Center. Her talk is titled “A New Mode of Orientation: Planetary Cognitive Ecologies.” The next day, Nov. 14, she will meet with a special session of the colloquium.

For more information about the Fall Faculty Colloquium, please contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or call (785) 864-4798.