Frankenstein@200: International Health Humanities Consortium Conference

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The 2018 International Health Humanities Consortium Conference will be held at Stanford University from April 20-22, 2018. The keynote speakers are:

Alexander Nemerov
Professor, Art and Art History at Stanford University

Lester Friedman
Professor, Media and Society at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Alvan Ikoku
Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature and Medicine at Stanford University

Catherine Belling
Associate Professor, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University

In addition, there will be a number of great events around campus. You can find more information here.

I will be participating in the conference in two ways:

First, on Friday, April 20 (2:30-3:30pm in McMurtry 115) I will be presenting a screening session of videographic works related to “Frankenstein & Film.” I will be showing a few of my own pieces (which you can see here and here), as well as works by video essayists like Allison de Fren, alongside commercial “making of” videos, art film reimaginations, and other moving-image forms that treat the history of Frankenstein films from Thomas Edison’s 1910 production up to the present day.

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Second, on Sunday, April 22 (11:15am), I will be presenting a paper titled “Frankenstein and Bioethics Beyond Chance and Choice.” The paper draws upon and rethinks ideas that I put forward in one of my very first publications: “Frankenstein, Bioethics, and Technological Irreversibility.” That paper, published in 2007, can be found here.

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Let’s Make a Monster! Critical Making (Stanford, Spring 2018)

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Ever since Frankenstein unleashed his monster onto the world in Mary Shelley’s novel from 1818, the notion of “technology-out-of-control” has been a constant worry of modern societies, plaguing more optimistic visions of progress and innovation with fears that modern machines harbor potentials that, once set in motion, can no longer be tamed by their human makers. In this characteristically modern myth, the act of making — and especially technological making — gives rise to monsters. As a cautionary tale, we are therefore entreated to look before we leap, to go slow and think critically about the possible consequences of invention before we attempt to make something radically new. However, this means of approaching the issue of human-technological relations implies a fundamental opposition between thinking and making, suggesting a split between cognition as the specifically human capacity for reflection versus a causal determinism-without-reflection that characterizes the machinic or the technical. Nevertheless, recent media theory questions this dichotomy by asserting that technologies are inseparable from humans’ abilities to think and to act in the world, while artistic practices undo the thinking/making split more directly and materially, by taking materials — including technologies — as the very medium of their critical engagement with the world. Drawing on impulses from both media theory and art practice, “critical making” names a counterpart to “critical thinking” — one that utilizes technologies to think about humans’ constitutive entanglements with technology, while recognizing that insight often comes from errors, glitches, malfunctions, or even monsters. Co-taught by a practicing artist and a media theorist, this course will engage students in hands-on critical practices involving both theories and technologies. Let’s make a monster!

ARTSTUDI 233, FILMSTUD 233/433 — Spring 2018 — Profs. Paul DeMarinis & Shane Denson — Thursdays 3:00-5:50pm

Video: What is Monster? What is Human?

Video is now online from the opening colloquium of Stanford’s Frankenstein@200 Initiative: “What is Monster? What is Human?” (October 17, 2017, Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University).

My talk, “Frankenstein, Film, and the Mediation of Media Change,” is embedded above.

Below you will find talks by my colleagues Denise Gigante (English), Aleta Hayes (Theater and Performance Studies), Russ Altman (Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine), and Hank Greely (Law, Genetics).

Frankenstein 2018: 200 Years of Monsters (CFP)

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The call for papers is now out for the “Frankenstein 2018: 200 Years of Monsters” conference hosted by the Australian National University and the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, Australia (12 – 15 September 2018). I will be giving one of the four keynote talks — on Frankenstein in film and other media. Proposals are being solicited for talks on a range of Frankensteinian topics, including:

  • Literary studies, especially of the long eighteenth century, Romanticism, Victorian and neo­‐Victorian literature
  • Re-tellings and re-­‐imaginings of the Frankenstein story in various modes and genres, e.g. SF, steampunk, speculative fiction, slash fiction, etc.
  • Film, television, theatre and performance, and visual studies
  • Digital humanities, reception studies, histories of popular culture, and media ecologies
  • Gender studies, queer theory, and the history of sexuality
  • Disability studies and post‐humanism
  • The history of medicine, especially reproductive technologies
  • Science and technology studies; images and imaginaries of science and scientists
  • The history and philosophy of biology, especially in relation to vitalism
  • Eco‐criticism and the Anthropocene
  • Affect theory and the history of emotions
  • Frankenstein and race, colonialism, empire
  •  Global and local Frankensteins, e.g. Australian Frankensteins
  • Frankenstein and material history
  • Cyborgs, robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning
  • Synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and artificial life

For more info and the CFP, take a look at the conference website: http://rsha.cass.anu.edu.au/events/conference-frankenstein-two-hundred-years-monsters

Fembots: From Representation to Reality

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On Monday, November 13, 2017 (5:30pm in Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building), media maker/scholar Allison de Fren (Occidental College) will be on hand for a screening of her 2010 documentary The Mechanical Bride and her 2015 video essay Fembot in a Red Dress. The screening, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a Q&A.

Sponsored by the Stanford Department of Art & Art History, the Documentary Film Program, and Stanford’s Frankenstein@200 Initiative.

What Is Monster? What Is Human? (Update)

F200 Opening Colloquium 10 2017 poster

This is the updated poster for the opening colloquium for Stanford’s Frankenstein@200 Initiative, October 17, 2017 (7:00-8:30pm in Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford School of Education). I’ll be speaking alongside Denise Gigante (English Department), Aleta Hayes (Theater and Performance Studies), Russ Altman (Bio-Engineering, Genetics, Medicine, Computer Science), and Hank Greely (Law and Genetics), moderated by Jane Shaw (Dean for Religious Life).

Free and open to the public: All humans, monsters, cyborgs, others welcome.

The Meaning of “Animation” in Edison’s Frankenstein (1910)

This video is an experimental “annotation essay” that develops a reading of Edison’s Frankenstein (1910) through on-screen text annotations. This is the complete film, unedited except for the annotations and new digital intertitles.

The video’s argument is adapted from Chapter 3 of my book Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface: “Monsters in Transit: Edison’s Frankenstein.”

This is my second Frankenstein-themed video essay. The first one, on sound in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), can be found in the online journal [in]Transition.