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Title:"The face of things": the posthumanist imagination in eighteenth-century Britain
Author(s):Ha, In Hye
Director of Research:Pollock, Anthony
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Pollock, Anthony
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Markley, Robert; Blackwell, Mark; Rabin, Dana
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):posthumanist imagination
eighteenth-century British subjectivity
Abstract:"The Face of Things: The Posthumanist Imagination in Eighteenth-Century Britain" examines how eighteenth-century British subjects negotiated their identities in response to the increased contact with nonhuman agents—plants, animals, diseases, and automata—facilitated by global networks of commerce and science. Throughout the project, I argue that such transactions that reckon the agency and vitality of "things"—the broadly construed nonhuman—led British writers like Defoe, Swift, and Barbauld to question anthropocentric and Eurocentric ideas and practices, by collapsing key conceptual distinctions between the human and the nonhuman, the British and their colonial others. Building on the new-materialist understanding that "things" exhibit an agency independent of human intent, this project reveals British subjectivity as anxious and unstable, thereby contradicting the image of enlightenment writers as asserting a confident, rational mastery over their environs. As this dissertation engages with recent turns toward posthumanism and environmental ethics in literary studies by highlighting both the autonomy of marginalized objects and animals and the interconnectedness of the human and nonhuman, the ultimate stakes of the project are political and ethical.
Issue Date:2016-04-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 In Hye Ha
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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