Degree Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Major

English

First Advisor

Brianna Burke

Abstract

Each chapter that follows centers on literature showing the possible effects of Transhumanist philosophies if they are implemented. I focus on contemporary fiction that portrays Transhumanists — humans who believe in Transhumanism — as well as post-/transhumans characters. Limiting the scope of my thesis to contemporary literary works, I aim to explore the potential of new (specifically genetic) technologies, and consider the power of speculative fiction as it impinges both who we are and who or who we might become. In Chapter 1, I analyze the ambiguities of language in the Transhuman Declaration (2009), a manifesto written by a group of Transhumanists called Humanity Plus (H+). In this chapter, I show how the language used invites radical, dangerous, and totalitarian ideologies to sprout in Transhumanism, and in turn examine Zoltan Istvan’s philosophical novel The Transhumanist Wager (2011), which shows a radical Transhumanist building a One World Order to “perfect” the human species. The Transhumanist Declaration is the only nonfiction text I analyze in this thesis, and I chose it because it was one of the first, and is certainly the most popular, statement from a collective of Transhumanist thinkers. It changed the movement from a purely academic one to a political one. In Chapter 2, I show Transhumanity’s effects on post-/transhuman beings created by the members of the movement, by I analyzing Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) and Paulo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009) in order to show that Transhumanism may create marvels, but it will also create slaves. This chapter inspects the lives of Atwood’s genetically-manipulated Crakers and Bacigalupi’s Emiko, an engineered transhuman sex slave, and examines how post-/transhuman beings are deprived of agency in an anthropocentric world. This chapter also focuses on the issue of the human as an ascendant being and how that view shapes the world we inhabit and will necessarily affect post-/transhuman beings physically and emotionally. In Chapter 3, I look at texts that grant Transhumanism’s ultimate wish — immortality — and analyze how immorality, or the lack of death, affects human society through David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks (2014) and Jose Saramago’s Death With Interruptions (2008). These novels argue that immortality is not the answer to humanity’s deeply instantiated problems, and the absence of death will actually create more divisions in society, ultimately leading to violent conflict.

Copyright Owner

Benjamin Shane Evans

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

77 pages

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