This dissertation brings together Anglo-American literature, literary theory and the discourses of science and feminist studies of science to articulate a more socially responsible account of science, technology and humans. Central to this project is something that has been called the posthuman, a term which comes freighted with its own baggage, admittedly, but which, nevertheless, is a useful, even necessary trope to illustrate an aesthetics reflective of the technologically mediated world in which the human is immersed.
I have opened and closed this study with Marge Piercy's He, She and It because the novel's parallel narratives circumscribe chronologically the de-humanizing of humans and the emergence of the posthuman. The sub-narrative, a fictional rendering of Rabbi Loew of 16th century Prague who creates, from the mud banks of the Vltava, a golem, rehearses the stock admonishments against human creation. The main narrative, set in a futurist, highly technologically mediated society, recounts the tentative evolution of a non-human centered worldview.
While the selections by Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams and The Degradation of the Democratic Dogma, and Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, are, to varying degrees, anxious over the loss of human sovereignty, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow affirm, in distinctive ways, what feminist science studies writer Donna Haraway refers to as "cyborg politics," a rewriting of humanism's anthropocentric view of the world, the recognition that one is not human, the autonomous being endowed with innate capacities of reason, freewill and self-determination. Rather, he or she is a creature constructed of heterogeneous influences, material conditions and historical consequences. The shift in perspective, as dramatized in these novels, from a sovereign self versus the world to an agential figure more intimately attuned to its own continuity with the world, offers a re-imagining of the future, a hoped for alternative to the speciesist hierarchism of liberal humanism.