John Cabot University Announces 6th Posthuman Studies Workshop

On the 70th anniversary of Transhumanism, John Cabot University is happy to announce the 6th JCU Posthuman Studies Workshop, which will be developed in two sections, held on March 6 and November 6, 2021. Organized by philosophy Professors Brunella Antomarini and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, and JCU alumna Chryssi Soteriades, the workshop is dedicated to the Huxley Family, and will be called “Animaloids and Plantoids.” The workshop will explore topics such as evolutionary biology, embryology, biomimicry, and evo-devo biology.

Biologist Julian Huxley (1887-1975) was central for the development of posthuman studies, as he coined the term transhumanism in the year 1951. In his article “Knowledge, morality, and destiny” he defined transhumanism as follows: “Such a broad philosophy might perhaps best be called, not humanism, because that has certain unsatisfactorily connotations, but transhumanism. It is the idea of humanity attempting to overcome its limitations and to arrive at fuller fruition; it is the realization that both individual and social developments are processes of self-transformation” (Huxley 1951, 139).

The keynote speakers will be Josh Bongard on March 6, and Eduardo Kac and Nina Sellars on November 6.

Josh Bongard is a professor at the University of Vermont and a 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) awardee. In 2007, he was named to the MIT Technology Review TR35 as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under the age of 35. He is the co-author of the popular science book entitled How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: A New View of Intelligence (MIT Press, November 2006). He is also the co-author of Designing Intelligence: Why Brains Aren’t Enough (GRIN Verlag, 2011). He recently became part of a team based at the Universities of Vermont and Tufts, which has elaborated the first artificial organism, called Xenobot.

Eduardo Kac is a Brazilian-American contemporary artist and professor. He is particularly well known for his works that integrate biotechnology, politics, and aesthetics. During the 1990s he coined the phrase bioart and numerous neologisms to describe his transdisciplinary art practice, including holoarttransgenic art (the integration of human genes in an artwork) and plantimal, referring to a plant infused with human genes.

Nina Sellars is an artist and Research Fellow at the Alternate Anatomies Lab, School of Design & Art, Curtin University, Perth, Australia. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the Department of Anatomy & Developmental Biology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and the Project Manager for Immersive Environments at the School of Design & Art, Curtin University, where she designs augmented reality/blended reality teaching spaces that are informed by visual arts practice. Sellars’ installations, such as her 2009 work Anatomy of Optics and Light, aim to highlight relationships between light and the anatomical body.

The workshop will be streamed on the Metahumanities channel.