Rhetoric Graduate Conference: Humanism and its Prefixes

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Sep 29, 2015

Organized by the graduate students of UC Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric

The debate about the human has long haunted the humanities. Since antiquity, humanism has sought to define human nature’s essence while concomitantly situating the human being at the center of the universe as the “measure of all things.” This conference considers the fate of the human in the age of transhumanist intersubjectivity—signaled by the ongoing development of supplementary technologies designed to extend human capacities, such as AI and SynBio—attending to new political forms that challenge anthropocentrism and that emerge concurrently with anthropocentrism. Might inhuman conditions become the conditions of possibility for humanity?

Speakers from a range of disciplines and approaches, including, but not limited to, anthropology, law, philosophy, critical theory, visual culture, intellectual history, history of science and technology, and literature, will present papers October 3rd and 4th.

Our goal is to bring into conversation the inhuman conditions in various parts of the globe on different scales and spaces and to think with these forms of mapping in order to understand their limits and what possible worlds they open politically and ethically. Specifically, we hope to interrogate the nature of biological life as undifferentiated from the form of existence proper to the human being as metaphysical and political subject.

The keynote speaker for October 3rd is Karen Barad. Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Barad’s Ph.D. is in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Barad held a tenured appointment in a physics department before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Barad is the author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007) and numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory.

The keynote speaker for October 4th is James Porter. James Porter is Professor of Rhetoric, Comparative Literature, and Classics at the University of California at Berkeley. Porter taught Classics and Comparative Literature at U Michigan from 1986-2007, and at UC Irvine from 2007-2015. Porter is the author of The Sublime in Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2015). His research is diverse, including a study of Nietzsche’s early and late thought, and a study of models of aesthetic sensation, perception, and experience in ancient Greece and Rome.

Visit https://rhetorichumanisms.wordpress.com/ for more information, including a detailed program!