Posthumanist Aesthetics

Project by Prof. Dr. Ulfried Reichardt, Dr. Regina Schober, and Stefan Danter

This research project analyzes the implications of a critical posthumanist theoretical perspective for the conceptualization of subjectivity against the backdrop of a globalized, highly technologized and networked world. In this context, posthumanism is understood as an alternative theory to the long-lasting tradition of humanist thinking and as such subverts the ideal of a rational, self-determined and independent subject. Much rather, the subject is perceived as the result of continuous processes of recursivity and interdependence with objects, technology and other non-human agents. Posthumanism then serves a double function of being both a concept to describe contemporary developments and a general model for a “re-negotiation” of the status of the now decentered human subject.

Starting from this premise, the project will analyze a variety of examples from contemporary US literary and cultural discourses along the lines of two concepts, individual freedom of choice and distributed forms of knowledge. The central questions to be answered are: 1) How can literature and other texts be read from a posthumanist perspective and how can this perspective be of use? And 2) What new kinds of conceptualizations, negotiations or aesthetic forms of the human have been developed in American literature and film in the current information age?

Contact Details:

Department for American Studies
Prof. Dr. Ulfried Reichardt
Dr. Regina Schober
Stefan Danter