When James T. Spencer, director of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble (SUBE), turned to accept the applause at the 2018 Great American Brass Band Festival (GABBF) in Danville, Kentucky, he joked to himself, “Now what do we do for an…
‘Father of Posthumanism’ to Serve as CNY Humanities Corridor Visiting Collaborator
Cary Wolfe, a leading cultural theorist at Rice University, will serve as the Central New York Humanities Corridor Mellon Distinguished Visiting Collaborator at Syracuse University. A pioneer of posthumanist thought and animal studies, he will headline three local events, March 9-11.
On Wednesday, March 9, Wolfe will deliver the CNY Humanities Corridor Mellon Distinguished Visiting Collaborator Public Lecture. Titled “The Poetics of Extinction,” the event will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in 123 Sims Hall. It is co-sponsored by the CNY Humanities Corridor and the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
The following day, he will join artist-scholar Maria Whiteman for a program titled “Between Species” at Hosmer Auditorium in the Everson Museum of Art (401 Harrison St.). From 6:30-8:30 p.m., the duo will discuss and present a series of curated videos organized by the CNY Humanities Corridor. “Between Species” is part of an Urban Video Project/Light Work exhibition by the same name.
Wolfe will round out his visit on Friday, March 11, with the CNY Humanities Corridor Mellon Distinguished Visiting Collaborator Mini-Seminar. Titled “After Biopolitics,” the event will run from 9 a.m. to noon in 304 Tolley Humanities Building. Registration is required; please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, March 9. The seminar is co-sponsored by the CNY Humanities Corridor and the Syracuse University Humanities Center.
All events are free and open to the public.
“Cary Wolfe resides at the intersection of critical thought and cultural practice,” says Gregg Lambert, director of the CNY Humanities Corridor and Dean’s Professor of the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Drawing on a range of fields, including bioethics, cognitive science, animal ethics, gender studies and disability studies, he seeks to redefine humanity’s place in the world. All of this takes place along the biological-technological continuum, in which ‘human’ is one of many possible life-forms.”
At Rice, Wolfe doubles as the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and director of the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory. He is the author or editor of nearly a dozen books, including “What Is Posthumanism?” (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), which is part of a series of books he edits. In addition to being a widely published scholar, Wolfe is an internationally sought-after speaker whose presentations often incorporate elements of the arts and humanities, technology, natural science and social science.
Prior to Rice, Wolfe held faculty positions at SUNY Albany and Indiana University Bloomington. He earned a Ph.D. from Duke University.
“Cary Wolfe invites us to think beyond humanism,” Lambert continues. “This radical repositioning forges a new mode of philosophy, ethics and interpretation that rejects the classic humanist division of self and other, and challenges us to rethink our place in the world.”
Lambert says that strains of posthumanism may be found in the writings of Temple Grandin, the poetry of Wallace Stevens, the films of Lars von Trier and the music of David Byrne and Brian Eno. “It’s a new algorithm of human understanding,” he adds.
Wolfe’s keynote address will look at how art, science and philosophy respond to the concept of extinction, along with society’s ethical responsibilities to other forms of life.
At the Everson, Wolfe will discuss animal studies—an emerging field investigating the relationship between human and non-human animals—with Whiteman, who is an assistant professor of drawing/intermedia at the University of Alberta and is a Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholar at Rice’s Humanities Research Center.
Wolfe’s Mini-Seminar will explore connections between animal studies and post-humanism, systems theory and pragmatism, biopolitics and biophilosophy, and American literature and culture.