Egenis/Science, Techology and Culture Seminar with Professor Regenia Gagnier, 'World Literatures and what it means to be Human in the Niche of Nature, Culture, Technology'
SpeakersProfessor Regenia Gagnier, Professor of English, University of Exeter
Egenis,Byrne House,University of Exeter,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7
Time: 3:00 - 4:30pm
While the globalisation of literature is ancient, the study of world literature (like world history) today is contested: world literature as the best; as bearer of universal values; as circulating in translation/remediation; in relation to power and domination (e.g., in relation to postcolonial studies); in relation to globalisation; in relation to commodification. The lecture will first describe the state of debate on world literature and then consider its value in addressing what it means to be human in the developmental/environmental niche of nature, culture, and technology.
Humans are distinguished from other animals by the enhanced use of technology in their niche-construction. As the (most) technological animals, humans are determined by both biology and will to make their own histories through interaction with natural, social, and technological environments. They are exceptionally malleable and can be trained to do many things, both creative and destructive. Yet reflection on this natural history of change and difference tells us that things can and will change. So hope is the natural consequence of the genetic under-determination of the human phenotype.
The lecture will explore the scope and limits of this philosophical anthropology/genomics within the diversity of world literatures, focusing on great geopolitical commodities — bananas, cotton, tea, rice, petroleum, coffee, tobacco, sugar, water, waste, transport — around which literatures and lives are built.