A Genealogy of Cyborgothic
Aesthetics and Ethics in the Age of Posthumanism
In his provocative and timely study of posthumanism, Dongshin Yi adopts an imaginary/imaginative approach to exploring the transformative power of the cyborg, a strategy that introduces balance to the current discourses dominated by the practicalities of technoscience and the dictates of anthropocentrism. Proposing the term "cyborgothic" to characterize a new genre that may emerge from gothic literature and science fiction, Yi introduces mothering as an aesthetic and ethical practice that can enable a posthumanist relationship between human and non-human beings. Yi examines the cyborg's literary manifestations in novels, including The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, Dracula, Arrowsmith, and He, She and It, alongside philosophical and critical texts such as Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of Our ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment, John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism and System of Logic, William James's essays on pragmatism, ethical treaties on otherness and things, feminist writings on motherhood, and recent studies of posthumanism. Arguing humans imagine the cyborg in ways that are seriously limited by fear of the unknown and current understandings of science and technology, Yi identifies in gothic literature a practice of the beautiful that extends the operation of sensibility, heightened by gothic manifestations or situations, to surrounding objects and people so that new feelings flow in and attenuate fear. In science fiction, which demonstrates how society has accommodated science, Yi locates ethical corrections to the anthropocentric trajectory that such accommodation has taken. Thus, A Genealogy of Cyborgothic imagines a new literary genre that helps envision a cyborg-friendly, non-anthropocentric posthuman society. Encoded with gothic literature's aesthetic embrace of fear and science fiction's ethical criticism of anthropocentrism, the cyborgothic retains the prospective nature of these genres and develops mothering as an aesthetico-ethical practice that both humans and cyborgs should perform.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: beyond 'the ruin of representation'; A beautiful attendant: the rise of the gothic aesthetics of the beautiful; A beautiful monster: the fall of the gothic aesthetics of the beautiful; Van Helsing's dilemma: science and Mill's utilitarianism; A humanistic science in a pragmatic society: re-reading Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith; The birth of cyborgothic: mothering the cyborg in Marge Piercy's He, She and It; Works cited; Index.
Dongshin Yi is a Lecturer in the Department of English at Texas A&M University, USA.
'A Genealogy of Cyborgothic has a place on every Gothic, Sci-Fi, or Cyborg literature course’s secondary reading list, and the early chapters could easily enrich a student’s understanding of early ethical and aesthetic theories.' Gothic Imagination 'Yi's readings are careful and balanced, showing him to be both an elegant and original thinker.' Science Fiction Studies