What does it mean to be human today? How is it different from 100, 150, 200 years ago? The definition of humanity has been radically questioned in the last 150 years, and this course explores culture’s responses to such interrogations. What fundamentally distinguishes a human from an animal or a machine? What is the role of gender in the definition of humanity? Are there ways of representing the human body that go beyond the traditional, organic model? What is post/transhumanism? Are these definitions proper to the West only?
Through a wide range of works (literature, visual arts, cinema), some philosophical texts and news articles, we will discuss such questions and see how culture answers them. Possible topics for seminars are humanism, Romanticism and Frankenstein, Darwinism and Dracula, arts in the postwar period, Post/Transhumanism and contemporary fiction.
There will be some readings in advance, many in-class group activities (some creative, some analytical), presentations and written assignments which can be creative or analytical. You will be asked to respond to each other’s work orally and in writing. The class will be highly interactive and will be based on the idea that the skill you most need to work on is speaking.
The class will therefore give room for debate on fundamental questions, broaden the scope of your cultural interests and improve your communicating skills in English.