Hypersigls and the Second Self

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Note: This is a work in progress to be submitted to Camille LeFevre.

December 2010

Call for Abstracts: (working title)

The Human Body as Cultural Metaphor in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Machine-Age Utopias to Digital-Era Dystopias

Editors: Camille LeFevre, MLS, and Deidre Cavazzi, MFA

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, rapid advances in technology have shaped our continually evolving socio-cultural realities. How our bodies interact with and accommodate technology inspires cultural debates on the nature of being. How our physical relationships with technology alter human communication and community has given rise to a new field of study, cyborg anthropology. Our physiological adaptations to medical, educational, communications and entertainment technologies have spurred discussions on the post-human body, trans-humanism, and the merging of the corporeal and digital into “the singularity.” Meanwhile, our bodily interactions with various communication technologies already allow us to exist in the non-corporeal dimension of cyberspace.

The intent of the anthology, The Human Body as Cultural Metaphor in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Machine-Age Utopias to Digital-Era Dystopias, is to investigate how science fiction and fantasy (including film, television, literature, and online and video games) interrogate and investigate the human body’s changing relationship to technology, from 19th-century machine innovations to present digital constructs. The thesis of the anthology is that many science fiction and fantasy texts present human-technological constructs, concepts or characters that serve as reifications or manifestations of socio-cultural anxieties or hopes about our relationship with technologies. These depictions largely align with one of two points of view: 1) utopian depictions of the human body extended, enhanced or augmented for fantastical, superior physical abilities, and/or 2) dystopian predictions of the body dehumanized or destroyed by technology.

The editors of this anthology seek papers that: explore how science fiction and fantasy texts (film, television, literature, online and video games) use the human body as a metaphor for humanity’s technological evolution and transformation; how the authors of these texts are, through the characters and the techno-social narratives they occupy, redefining the body’s relationship to technology; and how the technologically altered human body is a metaphor for an era’s anxieties, fears and fantasies about rapid technological change, and a mirror for such emotions percolating in the collective unconscious of a society.

Potential areas for exploration: • Avatars, projections and surrogates • Online multi-player games (MMORPG) and video gaming • Cylons, cyborgs and clones • Technological separation of minds, identities and bodies • The body in parallel and alternate worlds, cyberspace and virtual reality • The biologically enhanced or technologically transformed kinetic body • The human body in relationship to alien bodies and environments • The destabilization of humanity in the face of technological advances • The trans- and post-human body, and the singularity • The body adapting or in opposition to technology/technology controlling or consuming the body


February 15, 2011: Deadline for 500 to 700-word abstract, with bibliography and author bio for 3,000-5,000-word papers. Send to both addresses: dcavazzi@saddleback.edu and lefev025@umn.edu

March 15, 2011: Abstracts selected and authors notified.

April 15, 2011: Book proposal with abstracts submitted to publishers.

Requests for completed papers will be sent to authors when the book proposal is accepted.

Editor Bios:

Camille LeFevre is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. She teaches a course in cyborg anthropology in the Graduate School, professional arts journalism in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and has taught in the dance and architecture programs. Her Master of Liberal Studies thesis, “Cyborg Ballerina, Cyber Warrior: A Study of Dancing Human/Machine Hybrids from Sylphide to Science Fiction,” intertwined research and theory from the disciplines of film, dance, television, art history, critical media studies and popular culture. As a scholar, she presents her research into the ballet body in science fiction, and on site-specific performance, at conferences around the United States and Canada. An interdisciplinary arts journalist, critic and editor, she’s written thousands of articles, previews and reviews for journals, magazines, newspapers and online-publications throughout the United States. She’s the author of Charles R. Stinson Architects: Compositions in Nature.

Deidre Cavazzi is a lecturer and choreographer working in Southern California, and the artistic director of ArchiTexture Dance Company, a site-specific performance company that uses dance as a medium to recontextualize architectural spaces. Her choreography is deeply influenced by the locations she selects for her work; by removing dance from the proscenium and placing it in unexpected environments, she examines the relationships between performers and space, choreography and architecture, audiences and perceptions of place. As a scholar, she’s interested in exploring the role of the body in other artistic mediums including film, literature and the visual arts. Her recent work includes an exploration of the use of the waltz for character transformation in fantasy films, and an examination of the technological separation of body from nature in contemporary society.