War on the Human
ebook ∣ New Responses to an Ever-Present Debate
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The essays in this collection explore the question of the human, both as a contested concept and as it relates to, and functions within, the wider global conjuncture. The authors explore the theoretical underpinnings of the term "human," inviting the reader to reflect upon the contemporary human condition, to identify opportunities and threats in the changes ahead, and to determine what aspects of our species we should abandon or strive to maintain. The volume approaches these ideas from a myriad of perspectives, but the authors are united in their abstention from rejecting humanism outright or, indeed, fully endorsing posthumanism's teleological narrative of accelerated progress and perfectability. Instead, the authors argue that the term "human" itself is better understood as a concept perpetually undergoing revision, and is necessarily subject to scrutiny. The contributors here are thus concerned with investigating the following questions: What does it mean to be human, or to have a self? What is the current place or status of the human in the contemporary world? As technology is increasingly used to modify our bodies and minds, to what extent should we alter—and how can we improve—our very understanding of human nature? The authors contend that literature is the art form best placed to answer these questions. In its dynamism and discursiveness, literature has the capacity to both reflect dominant discourses and ideologies, as well as to generate and even anticipate social change; to critique and refine conventional ideas and existing cultural modes, and to envision new possibilities for the future. The human and its literary representation, in other words, are inherently intertwined.