(Un)Learning to Be Human?

Collected Essays on Critical Posthumanism, Volume 1


Critical posthumanism is a theory paradigm that has become hugely influential across the humanities and social sciences in the last twenty years. This volume collects essays written over the last decade by one of the founders and leading figures of this movement. Originally a reaction to accelerated technological and media change that challenges traditional notions of what it means to be human, posthumanism (as opposed to transhumanism) has developed into a general critique and reappraisal of life after humanism and anthropocentrism. The essays collected here are dealing with aspects of education, technology, politics, media and art, and share a focus on how to critique and unlearn traditional understandings of humanness and (re)learn what it means to be human differently.

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Stefan Herbrechter held academic positions at the Universität Heidelberg, Germany, Leedstrinity University and Coventry University, UK. He has published widely on English and comparative literature, cultural theory and media studies and is the author of Posthumanism – A Critical Analysis (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Before Humanity (Brill, 2021), as well as the editor of the Palgrave Handbook of Critical Posthumanism (Springer, 2023), director of the Critical Posthumanism Network (http://criticalposthumanism.net/) and general editor of the Critical Posthumanisms series (https://brill.com/view/serial/CPH). For more detailed information please go to stefanherbrechter.com.

Preface: Returning to Critical Posthumanism

Image Credits

Introduction: Critical Posthumanism – Ten Years On

1Poststructuralism and the End(s) of Humanism
1 Post-, Again

2 Post-structural-ism

3 Poststructuralism and Posthumanism

2Posthumanism, Subjectivity, Autobiography
1 Post-human-ism

2 The Death of the Subject and Autobiography

3 Addressing the Posthumanist Subject

4 Posthumanism and Autobiography

5 Posthuman(ist) Life Writing

6 Post-script: De-Facebook

3The Rhetoric of the Posthuman
1 Rhetoric and Philosophical Anthropology

2 The Rhetoric of the Posthuman – Disfigurations

3 Postanthropocentric Rhetoric

4  ps : A Note on Posthumanist Rhetoric and New Media

1 Storying, or, Why Critical Posthumanism, Still

2 Unlearning, or the Linguistic Return

3 Reworlding, or Carrying the Other

5Posthumanist Education?
1 The Posthumanisation of the Education System

2 Posthumanism and Pedagogy

3 Humanism as a Technology of Domestication

4 Critical posthumanist education

5 Conclusion

6(Un)learning to Be Human
1 Posthumanism and Education

2 Un-learning

3 Addressing the Posthumanist Subject

4 Animals in School – Zoomimesis and Rewilding

7Posthumanism ‘without’ Technology, or How the Media Made Us Post/Human: From Originary Technicity to Originary Mediality
1 Posthumanism as Discourse

2 Critical Posthumanism, or Posthumanism ‘without’ Technology

3 Posthumanism and the Media, or from Originary Technicity to Originary Mediality

4 Postscript: Posthumanism and the Future of the Humanities

8Postfiguration, or, the Desire of the Posthuman
1 Posthumanism: Discourse and Figure

2 Disfiguration, or, What Does Mimesis Hide?

3 From Anthropomimesis to Zoomimesis

4 After Mimesis: Postfiguration?

5 Examples
 5.1 Camilla Adami – Primati/Jacques Derrida – Tête-à-tête

 5.2 Tim Flach – More than Human

 5.3 The “Monkey Selfie”

 5.4 Daniel Lee – Manimals (1993)

9Perfectibilities, or, How (Not) to Improve Humans
1 Positionings

2 Perfectibilities

3 Future Perfect: Constructions of the (Human) Future

4 Room for Improvement, or There Is Always Some

5 Desire of the Posthuman, or Yearning for Perfection

6 Could Do Better: Humanism without Humans or Humans without Humanism

10Making Humans Better: Posthumanism ‘beyond’ Violence
1 What Is Wrong with Humanism? or, We Have to Get Better

2 Critical Posthumanism between Post- and Trans-, or, Better Not…

3 There’s Something Wrong with Perfectibility, or: Get Better Soon!

4 Posthumanistic Politics beyond Good and Evil, or, Let’s Do the Correction Now!

5 Unlearning Humanism and the Question of Justice, or, Better Does Not Necessarily Mean Good

6 And Finally: Best Wishes… from the Terminator

Conclusion: Dehumanisation, or, Humanism without Humans
1 Humans without, Not: Without Humans

2 Dehumanisation

3 Humanism without Humans, Humans without Humanism, Humanism without Humanism



Graduate and postgraduate students, academics and libraries in the following subjects: cultural studies – media studies – social theory – philosophy – literary studies – education – political theory.
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