Mapping the Human
course explores definitions of the human in two intertwined contexts: 1) in an
increasingly technological society, and 2) in relation to the (other) animals
that we class and dismiss as non-human. What is human? What is /not/ human?
These questions have been asked, explicitly and surreptitiously, in different
ways and in different
usually by those who write and act in the human subject's name. As with many
slippery categories, we may have difficulty arriving at a solid definition;
however, we feel confident that we are in the presence of "humanity"
when we see it, or interact with it. The human comes in many conceptual types:
ontological, ethical, political, biological,
etc. It is thus a revealing task to "map" the human on to key texts
and sites in contemporary society, in order to better understand the myriad
assumptions "we" have inherited from the past. This course is a vigilant
questioning of fixed modes of categorization (taxonomy), especially those
subliminal binaries we take so much for granted. The syllabus reflects a belief
that the /form/, /structure/, /deployment/
/presence/ of media are as crucial to understanding and reconfiguring
"culture" than distanced, would-be objective readings of assumed
/content/. Nevertheless, the content of humanity -- "the species without
qualities" -- will be also at issue during our discussions. Works studied include Giorgio Agamben’s The Open: of Man and Animal; Harold
Bloom’s Invention of the Human; Bruno
Latour’s A Collective of Humans and
Nonhumans; plus additional works by Norbert Wiener, Donna Haraway, Glen A.
Mazis, Marshall McLuhan, F.T. Marinetti and Friedrich Kittler.