Call for Papers

Cyborgs and Cultural Systems

A Panel Discussion at the Sixth International Literature and Humanities Conference,

Inscriptions in the Sand: an arts and culture conference and festival

at Eastern Mediterranean University

in Famagusta, on the island of Cyprus

May 30-June 1, 2003


The term “cyborg” (cybernetic organism) was originally coined by Clynes and Kline in 1960 to characterize a self-regulating complex entity made up of interacting electrical/mechanical and human systems—as distinct from “robot,” which was derived by Capek in 1923 from a Czech word meaning “drudgery,” and which still today describes a non-sentient machine performing tasks set and ultimately controlled by a human being.

However, since the publication of Donna J. Haraway’s “Manifesto for Cyborgs” in 1985, the cyborg has evolved—in disciplines as diverse as literature, film, sociology, cybernetics, and medicine—into a figure and a trope of hybridity. As such, it interrogates and/or collapses the differences between the sentient and the non-sentient, the human and the non-human; it engages and undoes a wide range of binary oppositions from Cartesian dualism to culturally coded distinctions of gender, class, and race; and it exemplifies the breaching of boundaries and frontiers in social, ethical, legal and technological issues from disability to genetic engineering to computer privacy.

We invite proposals for a Panel Discussion aimed at extending current concepts of the cyborg, and exploring the ramifications of the interaction between human beings and their socio-cultural, technological, and biological environments.

            Some possible topic areas (others are welcome):


—the extensions of man and woman: from Marshall McLuhan to Donna Haraway

—the cyborg and the “posthuman”: the work of N. Katherine Hayles and Bruno Latour

—bodies without organs (Artaud)/desiring machines (Deleuze and Guattari)

—cyborgs and social systems: Niklas Luhmann on media and “ecological communication”

—between biological and cultural systems: Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela

—rethinking Enlightenment rationality: between La Mettrie, deism, and the cyborg

—avatars and cybersex: desire, fragmentation and jouissance in cyberspace

—the hyperreal and the decay of lying: from Oscar Wilde to The Truman Show

—Lacanian cyberspace: the Imaginary and the Symbolic

—technomyths of fear and limitation: Icarus, Prometheus, and Pandora

—science/creation myths: Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

—reconfiguring the grotesque: monsters/hybrids from satyrs, centaurs and mermaids to cyborgs, androids, replicants, clones, and zombies

—cyborgs and hyperreality: Benjamin’s aura, Debord’s spectacle, Baudrillard’s simulacrum

—deconstructing grand narratives: ecofeminism and narratives of empowerment

—monstrosity in film: from The Island of Dr. Moreau to Jurassic Park and Monsters, Inc.

—technophilosophical utopias/dystopias: Zamyatin’s We, Orwell’s 1984, and their progeny

—cyborg fiction: Asimov, Clarke, Gibson, Ballard, Dick, Coupland, etc.

—prosthetics in literature/film from Edward Scissorhands to Luke Skywalker

—cyber-environments, interactive/virtual realities: Tron, eXistenZ, Johnny Mnemonic

—prosthetics in reality from Gotz von Berlichingen to Stephen Hawking

—magical technologies: from Perrault’s seven-league boots to Oz and the Tin Woodman’s heart

—war, amputation, disability: the ethics of medical transplant/implant technology

—the avatars of Arnold Schwarzenegger: Total Recall, Terminator, RoboCop, The Sixth Day

—the ethics of reproductive technology: genetic selection, cloning, and eugenics

—theorizing new technologies: Kevin Warwick, the VeriChip, “smart” clothing

—chemical enhancement: from cosmetics and steroids to genetically modified foods

—cyborgs and superheroes: Spiderman, the Hulk, the X-Men, etc.

—Foucault’s “political technology of the body”: panopticism and cyborg ideologies

—city machines: Metropolis, Logan’s Run, The Matrix, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report

—language-instinct machines: the work of Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, and Marvin Minsky

—monstrosity and decadence: Des Esseintes, and Bouvard and Pecuchet

—art and technology: from Futurism and Constructivism to Borofsky and Stelarc


Prospective panelists are invited to send 250-word abstracts/proposals for 15-20 minute presentations on any aspect of these areas to [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask] by 30 October, 2002. We look forward to learning about your research, and to a provocative discussion.


For more information about Inscriptions in the Sand,

please visit our website at

Please also check out our links to Individual Research Presentations” and “Creative/Performance Work.