This research essay was written for the Media Studies course ASTU100 (Remediation).
Project aim: Posthumanism (and its subgenre transhumanism) are relatively new topics in academic discourse, which is why they are often confused terms when they actually define very different conditions. My essay attempts to distinguish them through the novel Frankenstein and orchestrating scholarly articles in scientific and theoretical fields.
Why did I choose this project?
After my introduction to computer programming, I became interested in the philosophical discourse of how machine and humans differed and converged, and the concept of the posthuman, a hypothetical human being who loses ontological distinction from machines, addressed exactly this question. However, when I delved into this topic, I realized that the term was often used interchangeable with "transhuman" (a human with technological enhancements). I decided to clarify this confusion of terms through this essay.
Skills used and Challenges:
- Research: The planning of this essay exercised my research skills a lot because I was trying to clarify something that, even in dominant academic discourse which I was referencing, was easily confused.
- Challenge--Definition of Terms: Many of the scholarly articles I found had different or even clashing definitions of the same terms due to how new this discourse was. To solve this issue, I limited the research discipline to Science Studies to have a more focussed definition.
- Challenge--Conflated Terms: Another problem of conflation was "posthuman" with "posthumanism" and "transhuman" with "transhumanism" when these were actually different (but not unrelated) subjects. Throughout this process I learned to make use of library Advanced Search fields in order to limit my scope of research, which led in much more relevant search results.
- Communication: Because my essay centered around distinguishing two very similar terms that used the same words in their descriptions ("futuristic", "technological", "advanced" etc), I was particularly exercising my ability to communicate and had to become familiar with jargon from that particular field of discourse in order to concisely point out differences.
Research question: How does Frankenstein’s creature, as a realized form of human transcendence, facilitate the distinction between theoretically-rendered transhuman and posthuman conditions?