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‘Father of Posthumanism’ to Serve as CNY Humanities Corridor Visiting Collaborator

Rice University’s Cary Wolfe will headline three public events March 9-11

Feb 29, 2016 | Article by: Rob Enslin


Photo of Cary Wolfe

Cary Wolfe

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 p.m. to 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 (SU:VPA).


Photo of Maria Whiteman

Maria Whiteman

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 p.m. to 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 room 304 of the Tolley Humanities Building. Registration is required; please RSVP mmditmar@syr.edu by Monday, March 7. The seminar is co-sponsored by The CNY Humanities Corridor and the Syracuse University Humanities Center (A&S).

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 A&S. “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 SUNY Albany and Indiana University Bloomington. He earned a Ph.D. from Duke University.


Photo of Gregg Lambert

Gregg Lambert

“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.

The CNY Humanities Corridor is a large-scale interdisciplinary project, housed in the Humanities Center and co-founded by Syracuse, Cornell University, and the University of Rochester. The project includes the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium (Colgate and St. Lawrence universities, as well as Hamilton, Skidmore, Union and Hobart and William Smith colleges).  

For the past decade, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has generously supported the Corridor through multiple grants to Syracuse University. Most recently, The Mellon Foundation awarded the Corridor’s three founding institutions a total of $3.55 million to establish permanent endowments that will support The CNY Humanities Corridor in perpetuity. For more information, visit syracusehumanities.org/mellon or email mmditmar@syr.edu.

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Contact Information

Rob Enslin
rmenslin@syr.edu
315-443-3403