Beings

Beings

Leader: Associate Professor Lykke Guanio-Uluru Participants: Associate Professor Marianne Røskeland, Assistant Professor Berit Westergaard Bjørlo, Associate Professor Maria Pujol Valls, Professor Kerry Mallan, Øystein Espe Bae

In light of recent advances in biotechnology and artificial intelligence (AI) research, and due to the increasing urgency of environmental issues, the concepts of both human and nature are under considerable strain and require rethinking. An influential reference point in the posthuman debate is Donna Haraway’s “A Manifesto for Cyborgs” (1991), where Haraway seeks to dismantle strict dualisms and boundaries between humans, animals, biological organisms and machines, as well as the boundary between technology and the self. Frequently quoted is also N. Katherine Hayles’ How We became Posthuman (1999) that critiques the erasure of embodiment as a feature common to the liberal human subject as a historical construction and the cybernetic posthuman, since both place emphasis on cognition over embodiment. More recently, Francesca Ferrando (2013) has discussed how “posthuman” has become an umbrella term referring to a variety of different schools of thought.

The overall purpose of Beings is to explore and analyze the function and representation of animals, plants and engineered beings in children’s and YA literature against the project’s analytical matrix and to investigate whether the textual conceptions of children and young adults change within the posthuman paradigm. A core hypothesis is that descriptions of plants and animals will cover the whole range of the spectrum from anthropocentric to ecocentric. In line with the posthuman angle, the borders between the three categories – animals, plants and engineered beings – are expected to be fluid rather than clear-cut

Projects:

Øystein Espe Bae: “The animal turn in contemporary children’s literature: A literary analysis of ethical aspects in Lene Kaaberbøl’s fantasy novel Ildprøven

Berit W. Bjørlo: “Illustrated Animal Poems by Ted Hughes: An Ecocritical Approach”

Lykke Guanio-Uluru “Sentient trees: from Old Norse Mythology to the storyworld of Kubbe”

Kerry Mallan: “Celebrating the wildness within: A posthumanist approach to childhood and animality”

Marianne Røskeland: “Nature and human being in the picture book Sånt som er (Things that are) by Svein Nyhus”

Maria Pujol Valls: “Catalan contemporary bestiariums or how butterflies and bees are represented in poetry for children”

Key references:

Boellstorff, T. (2008). The Age of Techne. In Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Bostrom, N. (2003). Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective. In Journal of Value Inquiry, 37 (4), 493-506.

Braidotti, R. (2013) The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Garrard, G. (2012). Ecocriticism. London and New York: Routledge.

Guanio-Uluru, L. (2015) Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature: Tolkien, Rowling and Meyer. London, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ferrando, F. (2013). Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations. In Existenz, Vol 8, No 2.

Hayles, K. (1999). How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Haraway, D. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991).

Mallan, Kerry (2013) Secrets, Lies and Children’s Fiction.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

—       (2009) Gender Dilemmas in Children’s Fiction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Zoe, J. (2015). Children’s Literature and the Posthuman: Animal, environment, Cyborg. London: Routledge.