skip to content


E: Posthumanisms (Convenor: Prof Martin Crowley)

This seminar will examine strands of thought from the 1960s to the present day which have sought to relativize or indeed abolish the centrality or primacy of the specifically human form of being. Its four sessions will consider in particular: (1) the constitution of this form of being via paradoxically originary technical prostheses; (2) the conception of beings in general in terms of the machinic, and the generalization of the insights of cybernetics and theoretical biology (including further consideration of the machinic) towards a maximally egalitarian understanding of being as multiplicity; and (3) the political possibilities and problems opened by the translation of this understanding into a conception of agency as distributed across heterogeneous assemblages of beings; and (4) critiques of the limitations of ‘posthumanism’, notably from race-critical perspectives. Rosi Braidotti’s The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity, 2013) will make useful preparatory reading.

Session 1: Originary technicity
Arthur Bradley, ‘Life’, in Originary Technicity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 1-20.
Jacques Derrida, ‘The Supplement of (at) the Origin’, in Of Grammatology (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 313-16.
Bernard Stiegler, ‘Who? What? The Invention of the Human’, in Technics and Time, 1: The fault of Epimetheus (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998), 134-79.

Session 2: Machines, cybernetics, and flat ontologies
Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari, ‘Desiring Machines’, in Anti-Œdipus (London: Athlone, 1984), 1-50.
Gregory Bateson, ‘Conscious Purpose versus Nature’, in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 431-45.
Humberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varela, ‘Introduction’ and ‘On Machines, Living and Otherwise’, in Autopoiesis and Cognition: The realization of the living (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1980), 73-84.
Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology: What it’s like to be a thing (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 3-22.

Session 3: The (eco)politics of hybrid agency
Jane Bennett, ‘The Agency of Assemblages’, in Vital Matter: A political ecology of things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 20-38.
Donna Haraway, ‘Sympoiesis’, in Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Duke University Press, 2016), 58-98.
Bruno Latour, ‘Fifth Lecture: How to Convene the Various Peoples of Nature’, in Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime (Cambridge: Polity, 2017), 146-183.

Session 4: Post-Who? Post-What? Displacement and critique
Claire Colebrook, ‘Introduction’, in Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1 (Open Humanities Press, 2014), 9-29.
Caroline Koegler, ‘Posthumanism and the Question of Race’:
Zakkiyah Iman Jackson, ‘Outer Worlds: The Persistence of Race in Movement “Beyond the Human”’, GLQ 21:2-3 (2015): 215-18.
Maneesha Deckha, ‘Toward a Postcolonial, Posthumanist Feminist Theory: Centralizing Race and Culture in Feminist Work on Nonhuman Animals’, Hypatia 27 (2012): 527-45. 

Back to core course seminars