Department of English

University of Toronto


ENG415H1F  L0201   W11-1
Advanced Studies Group 1: The Nonhuman Turn: Posthuman, Cybernetics, and New Materialism
Instructor:  R. Tazudeen

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 1002

Brief Description of Course:
The “nonhuman turn” specifies a shift in critical thought away from the human being, and the various modes of relations between human beings that have historically preoccupied theory and philosophy, and towards the active role that nonhuman agents play in shaping the world. These nonhuman agents include (but are not limited to) animals, plants, machines, objects, and “matter” itself. The goal of much recent theory in the fields of Posthumanism/Animal Studies, Cybernetics, New Materialism, and Object-Oriented Ontology is to provide new ways to imagine the world as a product of both nonhuman and human agency, and to imagine the human being not in terms of its transcendence over the nonhuman, but as a being that has co-evolved with nonhumans through a manifold series of relations. Through detailed readings in contemporary theory and philosophy, this course will navigate the theoretical and practical implications of human entanglement with nonhuman beings. We will focus on three various but inter-related aspects of the human-nonhuman relation: 1) the human/animal divide and its continued reproduction in language, 2) the relation between cybernetics, technology, and the human body, and 3) the intersections between human and material agency.

Required Reading:
Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman (selections)
Nicole Shukin, Animal Capital (selections)
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, “Becoming-Animal,” from A Thousand Plateaus
John Berger, “Why Look at Animals?”
Mel Chen, Animacies (selections)
N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman (selections)
Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, Women (selections)
Bill Brown, “Thing Theory”
Elizabeth Grosz, “Feminism, Materialism, and Freedom”
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway (selections)
Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (selections)
Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects (selections)

First Three Authors/Texts: Braidotti, Shukin, Deleuze and Guattari.

Method of Evaluation: Participation (15%); Weekly Responses (15%); In-class presentations (20%); Essay Proposal and Bibliography (10%); Final Essay (40%).

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