[Events] (Thu 19 Nov) Posthumanism and Bioethics Seminar with Joanna Zylinska (Goldsmith's, Uni of London)

Noreen.Giffney Noreen.Giffney at staffmail.ul.ie
Thu Nov 12 16:03:25 GMT 2009

There are still a couple of places available at the following seminar. Please email noreen.giffney at ul.ie if you would like to attend.


Gender, Culture & Society Seminars @ UL Present:




DR JOANNA ZYLINSKA (Goldsmith's College, University of London)


THURSDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2009, 2-4.30 pm


Room F1030, Foundation Building, University of Limerick


This seminar is hosted by Women's Studies @ UL



The problem of human enhancement occupies a prominent place not only in various academic disciplines - philosophy, sociology, media and cultural studies - but also in wider public debates about 'our human futures' and the direction of their transformation. Mobilising, unsurprisingly perhaps, experts and non-experts alike, this problem is usually articulated via two sets of questions: moral questions over the permissibility, extent and direction of enhancement, and technical questions over of the feasibility of different forms of alterations to human bodies and minds. My presentation postulates that none of the dominant positions on enhancement within the field of bioethics is entirely satisfactory due to a limited, monadic, pre-technological and non-cultural model of the human in these models. It takes on both critics of extension (e.g. Habermas) and their proponents (Harris, Agar, Bostrom, Savulescu, Dworkin). Developing further some of the ideas raised in my monograph, Bioethics in the Age of New Media (MIT Press, 2009), it proposes in response a new non-normative bioethics that sees its human and non-human subject as always already enhanced, and hence dependent, relational and co-evolving with technology. This position will not be used to justify the 'anything goes' approach to biological or technical intervention into the human or animal body - but rather to outline a more responsible ethics of enhancement. 

My focus in this presentation is not therefore on how much we can or should enhance, and by what means. Instead, I pose the following questions: 

(1)      What kind of ethical framework would we need to adopt if we were to concede that enhancement is inherent, rather than external, to human existence?

(2)   Even if enhancement as such is inherent to humans, are all kinds of enhancement to our bodies and minds equally desirable from the perspective of cultural and gender politics? 



Chapter for Discussion:

Delegates should read the following chapter in preparation for this seminar. Copies are available from noreen.giffney at ul.ie


Joanna Zylinska, 'Bioethics: A Critical Introduction' in Bioethics in the Age of New Media (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press 2009), pp. 3-34.



Seminar Schedule:

2.00 Posthumanism & Enhancement (Dr Noreen Giffney, Women's Studies, Department of Sociology, University of Limerick)


2.30 Posthumanism & Enhancement: Bioethics in the Age of New Media (Dr Joanna Zylinska, Goldsmiths, University of London)


3.00 Informal response by Dr Eoin Devereux (Head of Department of Sociology, University of Limerick)


3.10 Informal response by Odette Clarke (Women's Studies, Department of Sociology & Department of History, University of Limerick)


3.20 Short break


3.30 Discussion of presentation and required reading


4.30 Thanks and end of seminar



Joanna Zylinska is a cultural theorist writing on new technologies and new media, ethics and art. She is a Reader in New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths <http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk> , University of London. The author of The Ethics of Cultural Studies <http://freespace.virgin.net/j.zylinska/ethics.htm>  (Continuum 2005) and On Spiders, Cyborgs and Being Scared: the Feminine and the Sublime <http://freespace.virgin.net/j.zylinska/spiders.htm>  (Manchester University Press 2001), she is also the editor of The Cyborg Experiments: the Extensions of the Body in the Media Age <http://freespace.virgin.net/j.zylinska/cyborgs.htm> , a collection of essays on the work of performance artists Stelarc and Orlan (Continuum 2002) and co-editor of Imaginary Neighbors: Mediating Polish-Jewish Relations after the Holocaust <http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Imaginary-Neighbors,671921.aspx> (University of Nebraska Press 2007). Zylinska's third monograph is Bioethics in the Age of New Media <http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11759>  (The MIT Press 2009). This project is informed by the philosophy of Levinas, Derrida, Stiegler, Focault, Agamben and Butler, 'cyberfeminist' approaches to technology as well as the latest experiments in robotics, biotechnology, bioart and aesthetic surgery. She is Reviews Editor for Culture Machine <http://www.culturemachine.net> , an international open-access journal of cultural studies and cultural theory. Zylinska also combines her philosophical writings with photographic art practice <http://photos.joannazylinska.net/> . She brings together old and new photographic techniques with a view to creating images that creatively remediate the history of photography as well as its yet uncertain future. 




Eoin Devereux is Senior Lecturer and Head of Department in the Department of Sociology University of Limerick. He is the author of Understanding The Media 2nd edition (2007) and the editor of Media Studies: Key Issues and Debates (2007) - both published by SAGE (London).  His current research projects include work on Morrissey's Latino fans and he has recently published an essay 'I'm not the man you think I am: Authenticity, Ambiguity and the cult of Morrissey' in E. Haverinen, U. Kovala and V. Rautavuoma (eds) Cult, Community, Identity. Research Center for Contemporary Culture of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland (2009). 


Odette Clarke is a PhD candidate in gender history and a teaching assistant in Women's Studies at the University of Limerick. Her PhD research is on the ego-documents of Caroline Wyndham-Quin, countess of Dunraven (1790-1870) and her research interests are nineteenth-century constructions of gender, emotions in history, religion as a constitutive discourse and intra-familial power relationships. Her pedagogical interests include feminist and gender theory and historiography. Odette has a BSc in Applied Biological Sciences from Manchester Met where her final year project was in computational chemistry.

Everyone is welcome but pre-registration is necessary. Please note there are a limited number of places available so early registration is advised. To register and for further information, contact Dr Noreen Giffney, Women's Studies, Department of Sociology: noreen.giffney at ul.ie




This event forms part of the new Gender, Culture & Society seminar series at the University of Limerick. The Gender, Culture & Society (GCS) seminar series runs in tandem with the new MA in Gender, Culture and Society, convened by Women's Studies in the Department of Sociology. GCS aims to revisit debates within gender and sexuality studies in order to celebrate, challenge and rethink them by pushing the field in new directions. GCS is committed to supporting highly theoretical work and pioneering efforts in the areas of gender and sexuality. All speakers are invited and include thinkers whose work has had or will have a formidable influence on the development of critical theory and gender and sexuality. Seminar themes include: posthumanism and bioethics, intersex, theories of embodiment, queer theory, theories of the image, masculinities, gender and sexuality in clinical psychoanalysis, and critical theory and the maternal. The emphasis is on discussion. For further details, contact Dr Noreen Giffney, Women's Studies, Department of Sociology: noreen.giffney at ul.ie See http://www.ul.ie/womensstudies for a list of upcoming events in the series.



Noreen Giffney, PhD (NUI)
Junior Lecturer in Women's Studies
Room F2024, Foundation Building
Department of Sociology 
University of Limerick
Tel: +353-61-213128
Email: noreen.giffney at ul.ie
Web: www.ul.ie/womensstudies, http://www.ul.ie/sociology 




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