Work in Progress in the Social Studies (WIPSS): 2015/6
Tuesday, 31 May
Control, Autopoiesis and the Idea of the Posthumanist University
Prof. Ivan Callus
On Tuesday 31 May, in its sixth and final scheduled seminar for this academic year, the WIPSS seminar will host Prof. Ivan Callus, who will give a seminar entitled Control, Autopoiesis and the Idea of the Posthumanist University. Prof. Callus writes:
‘'Control' and 'autopoiesis' might seem like antonyms. The former suggests centralising dynamics and systemic dominion over chance, spontaneity, contrariety. The latter suggests autonomous (re)definition, with scope for unpredictability and creative becoming. In reality, this binary opposition is problematic. The autopoietic can itself be adaptively totalising and coercively self-sustaining. The genius within the autopoietic, it could be said, is also a controlling genie.
It is this paper’s intention to explore how this bears upon the relation between control and autopoiesis in posthumanist discourse. The first moves of the argument recall well-rehearsed outlooks on related discussions among figures like Althusser, Foucault, and Luhmann. Specifically posthumanist outlooks associated with, among others, William V. Spanos, N. Katherine Hayles, Cary Wolfe and Claire Colebrook are then reviewed.
The following questions will be considered. Based on what we have come to know of the posthuman(ist) condition as it is experienced, rather than envisioned, is it inevitable to conclude that control and the autopoietic have never been as co-dependent, co-defining, interchangeable, as now? If that is the case, and the moment one goes beyond inventories of this condition’s symptoms, what is the response and the responsibility of posthumanist education and of the post(-)humanist university very particularly – both in fact and ideality? How do universities overcome the temptation of genial adaptability to the protocols that contribute to the posthuman(ist) condition? Indeed, to start with the basics: what is the idea of the posthumanist university, and should it be resisted or embraced?’
Ivan Callus is Professor of English at the University of Malta, where he teaches courses in contemporary fiction and literary criticism. He has published widely on contemporary narrative, comparative literature, literary theory and posthumanism, his most recent publication being a co-edited volume of essays on the subject of European Posthumanism (Routledge, 2016). He is the founding co-editor, with James Corby, of the journal CounterText: A Journal for the Study of the Post-Literary, launched with Edinburgh University Press in 2015; with Stefan Herbrechter and Manuela Rossini he coordinates the Critical Posthumanism Network. His current research is on literature and code.
Tuesday 31 May, 18:00-19:00hrs; In the Faculty of Arts Library, on the second floor of Old Humanities Building, at the end of the corridor next to Room 301. The stairs are in the corner of the quadrangle behind the Assembly Hall. Students are encouraged to attend. The public is cordially invited.
Convenors: Paul Clough, Peter Mayo and Michael Briguglio