Cyborgs and Cultural Systems
A Panel Discussion
at the Eighth International Literature and Humanities Conference,
INSCRIPTIONS '05: an arts and culture conference and festival
at Eastern Mediterranean University
in Famagusta, on the island of Cyprus
May 12th - 13th, 2005

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, The Matrix series
-prosthetics in reality: From Gotz von Berlichingen
    to Stephen Hawking
-magical technologies: from Perrault's seven-league boots
    to Oz and the Tinman'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, 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] by 11th February, 2005.
I  look forward to learning about your research, and to a provocative

For more information about INSCRIPTIONS '05,
please visit our website at
Please also check out our links to "Individual Research Presentations" and
"Creative/Performance Work."

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