Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Human Objects

Wow, it's been far too long since I've updated my blog, and I honestly have no excuses (translate: apathy). I feel that I owe it to my readers (me...maybe 1 or 2 others), to compose something remarkable to make up for my silence, but I've nothing astonishing or profound to say at the moment, so I present instead this brief selection from an e-mail I sent to J.J. Cohen regarding a topic I would like to address as part of the GW MEMSI discussion panel "Ecologies" at KZoo 2012:

"The term ‘nonhuman’ has been bugging me lately; although OOO theorists often address the implications of the human-as-object, applications of OOO to medieval lit seem only to focus on the non-human. I think that such a definite exclusion of the human from studies of objects might actually polarize humans vs. other objects, perpetuating the idea of human as possessing some unique ontological status. I thought perhaps I could re-introduce the human into medieval discussions about OOO, open a channel to discuss the various ways that humans can be nonhuman or can perform/function in assemblages in nonhuman capacities. Humans as equipment, humans as tools, what is left when the human has receded from view and what the implications might be if humans are recognized as objects in ways that seem nonhuman. A contemporary example would be J.G. Ballard’s Atrocity Exhibition, in which humans are assemblages of sex acts and photographs and geographic landscapes and medical instruments and weapons and roadways. I’ll obviously include numerous examples from medieval lit in my presentation."

To be honest, I'm only posting this so I don't forget what I wrote to Jeffrey in the likely circumstance I delete the e-mail from my sent mailbox.