Being Non/Human is an interdisciplinary discussion group aimed at UK-based postgraduates and early career researchers. The group meets one Monday evening a month, and a meeting typically combines the presentation of relevant research papers with the discussion of significant articles or extracts.

The past few decades have seen an increasing interest in various forms of the nonhuman, including different considerations of the posthuman, a renewed interest in material studies, the rise of animal studies and the development of ecomaterialism. These different fields challenge past and current anthropocentric world views, but in turn have also led to a re-evaluation of what it means to be ‘human’ or indeed ‘nonhuman’. To what extent is the division between the ‘human’ and the ‘nonhuman’ stable? How do interactions between the ‘human’ and the ‘nonhuman’ redefine our concepts of these terms? What terms should be used to describe these entities? Can the ‘nonhuman’ be given a certain degree of subjectivity?

Papers presented during the academic year 2013/14 concerned, amongst other things: cyborgs and golems; physical and figurative metamorphoses; composite and alien creatures; Giorgio Agamben’s ‘anthropological machine’ and Vivian Sobchack’s work on phenomenology; and questions of how medicine, technology or performance art may affect the relationship between the human and nonhuman.

For full details of the group’s location and timetable – as well as the different papers to be presented and articles to be discussed – please go to the Schedule and abstracts page.

Being Non/Human, the discussion group, blog and 2015 conference, are set up and run by Sophia Wilson and Lydia Zeldenrust. Our group is funded by the English departments of King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London.

Sophia Wilson is a PhD student in the English department at King’s College London. Sophia’s work concerns the animacy of objects and nonhuman matter in late medieval literature, considering the role of material culture in the Vita et miracula sancti swithuni, the nonhumanness of human bodies in the N-Town Nativity play, the Croxton Play of the Sacrament and The King of Tars, as well as human/nonhuman transformations in Caxton’s Metamorphoses. Her research draws on the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (namely, the concepts of ‘assemblages’ and ‘becomings’), Giorgio Agamben, and other theorists interested in what it means to exist between – or beyond – strict categories or definitions. She is also interested in historical perceptions of the human body, from the body as a transformative being to an alien entity. You can follow her on twitter @SAWmedieval, or go to her academia.edu page: http://kcl.academia.edu/SophiaWilson

Lydia Zeldenrust is a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London. Lydia’s research on the various translations of the late medieval and early modern legend of Mélusine deals with questions of the perceived boundaries between man and animal and the way in which a hybrid monster may challenge these boundaries. Her research is greatly influenced by works by – among others – Derrida, Agamben, Wolfe, and Cohen. She is interested in how questions of what makes a man, animal or monster is reflected in secular works and images accompanying these texts, but she is also interested in scientific treatises and travel books that discuss the order and place of man and other beings. She further enjoys looking at different manifestations of the monster found in various cultures throughout history. For more details, please go to: http://qmul.academia.edu/LydiaZeldenrust


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