Bodies-Becoming & Identity Machines: Post/human Literatures
Prof. Eileen Joy

Fall 2008

Wednesdays 6:00 - 8:50 p.m. (Peck Hall 0408)

Figure 1. Francis Bacon, Man with Dog (1953)

". . . contrary to a deeply rooted belief, the book is not an image of the world. It forms a rhizome with the world, there is an aparallel evolution of the book and the world; the book assures the deterritorialization of the world, but the world effects a reterritorialization of the book, which in turn deterritorializes itself in the world (if it's capable, if it can). Mimicry is a very bad concept, since it relies on binary logic to describe phenomena of an entirely different nature. The crocodile does not reproduce a tree trunk, any more than the chameleon reproduces the colors of its surroundings. The Pink Panther imitates nothing, it reproduces nothing, it paints the world its color, pink on pink; this is its becoming-world, carried out in such a way that it becomes imperceptible itself, asignifying, makes its rupture, its own line of flight, follows its 'aparallel evolution' through to the end. The wisdom of the plants: even with something else -- with the wind, an animal, human beings (and there is also an aspect under which animals themselves form rhizomes, as do people, etc.). 'Drunkenness as a triumphant irruption of the plant in us.' Always follow the rhizome by rupture; lengthen, prolong, and relay the line of flight; make it vary, until you have produced the most abstract and tortuous of lines of N dimensions and broken directions. Conjugate deterritorialized flows. Follow the plants: you start by delimiting a first line consisting of circles of convergence around successive singularities; then you see whether inside that line new circles of convergence establish themselves, with new points located outside the limits and in other directions. Write, form a rhizome, increase your territory by deterritorialization, extend the line of flight to the point where it becomes an abstract machine covering the entire plane of consistency." (Gilles Deleuze and Feliz Guattari, from A Thousand Plateaus: Schizophrenia and Capitalism)

". . . I would suggest that we, as we reflect on the European tradition of metamorphosis, are like Ovid's . . . Narcissus. For even if we gaze at our own reflection when we bow low over the pool of our literary past, that gazing is a mark of who we are, and who we are is, in part, what we have been. . . . [Stories] are a significant component of what we think with. Hence our self-reflexivity, our tendency to study ourselves, is a mark of the self we carry with us as we bend over the pool. Our concern with how we can change yet be the same thing -- our fascination with the question of identity in all its varieties -- is inherited from our traditions. The identity we carry with us questions -- and by questioning confirms -- itself. In this sense, we are all Narcissus, as we are also the werewolf, a constantly new thing that is nonetheless the same." (Caroline Walker Bynum, from Metamorphosis and Identity)


In this course, we are going to explore how, following the thinking of Donna Haraway, the body does not end at the limits of the skin, but is dispersed across a world of affects, intensities, and objects. We will be especially interested in exploring hybridities and transformations of different "selves" that cross unexpected borders, from plant to insect to wolf to human to machine and beyond. Our scope will be broad, extending from stories of metamorphoses in the classical and medieval periods through the fairy tales of the so-called Enlightenment to the cyberpunk and cognitive fictions of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition, we will be reading some theoretical texts culled from a wide variety of academic fields. Our ultimate aim will be to have [hopefully] lively conversations about the nature of what it means to be "human" while also being "post/human," and also about the role of literature in human and other transformations of "self" and "world."

As this is a seminar-style course, preparing for and participating in class are vitally important to your ultimate success, and therefore, your contribution to in-class discussions as well as your attendance record will be factored into your final grade. Although I will provide much guidance and commentary, this is a discussion-, not a lecture-centered, course, and therefore students must come to class prepared with critical questions and comments related to the readings and films under discussion. As this is also a reading-intensive course, not keeping up with the reading could be extremely detrimental to your progress and final evaluation. One final (but important) word: coming to class without the text under discussion will be automatic grounds for dismissal from that particular class period (and will count as an absence).

REQUIRED PURCHASE TEXTS (available at University Bookstore in Morris University Center)

Neil Badmington, ed. Posthumanism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Signet Classics, 2000.

Philip K. Dick. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Vintage Books, 1991.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Grimm's Fairy Tales. Barnes and Noble Classics, 2003.

Jeanette Winterson. The Stone Gods. Harcourt, 2008.

*SOME of the readings for the course are literary texts and articles that will be distributed as handouts and/or be available through Lovejoy Library's Electronic Course Reserves.


1 CRITICAL PAPER, 10-12 pages (50%)

A two-part project: an annotated bibliography [due by mid-November] and a critical research paper. You are expected to develop your own topic and approaches; introduction of secondary texts, critics, media, and ideas is encouraged. This critical essay should deliver an original critical perspective and argument that takes up the theme of metamorphosis and/or post/humanism in relation to one or more of the primary literary texts we will have read this semester and at least one visual text that we have either viewed in class or that you have chosen on your own (this can include films, painting, multimedia artworks, online art installations & experimental websites, television series, etc.). Ideally, this paper should draw inspiration from the well of intellectual ideas encountered in course readings and class discussion, supplemented by additional secondary research. To help you get started, go here for a working bibliography of sources relevant to the subjects under discussion in this course [and also check out here my short bibliography for primers on critical theory]. For some help with MLA-style research documentation and citation, go here and here.


To facilitate class discussion, you will write short responses (roughly in the neighborhood of 2 typed pages) to weekly readings. It is up to you to decide which reading (or readings) to respond to, and in what manner. These short reading responses (five total) don't begin until after we've acclimated ourselves (typically in the third or fourth week of the course--see Schedule of Events below), and they are not due in the last seven weeks of the course, in order to give you more time for your paper research and writing. For more detailed guidelines on these short papers, go here.


Each student is responsible for making one fifteen-minute presentation to the class based on either: 1) one of the chapters in our volume of essays edited by Neil Badmington, Posthumanism, or 2) one of the readings on our Working Bibliography (see above) that are available as Electronic Course Reserves. This will mainly be a summary presentation in which you provide to your fellow students a summary of the reading, to include what you think are its most important and/or intriguing points, as well as questions that you think are raised in the reading that are worth debating further.


See above, second paragraph under COURSE DESCRIPTION.


I do not accept late assignments. Period. If there is an extraordinarily good reason for needing an extension on a due date, let me know in advance, and we will work it out.


Attendance, promptness, and participation are essential to success in college courses. Faculty members recognize that unexpected occasions may arise when a student must be absent from class, but my general attendance policy is that if you are absent more than the number of required class sessions per week (in this case, that would be more than 1 session), I have the option of lowering your final course grade by one letter grade for each additional session missed. Furthermore, if absences become excessive (more than two weeks' worth of sessions), the SIUE Registrar, at my request, reserves the right to withdraw you administratively. For more information on this, please consult the following: SIUE Class Attendance Policy. Failure to attend class in a responsible and committed manner may thus be grounds for failure in or administrative withdrawal from the course.


Any student found engaging in an act of academic dishonesty will be promptly dismissed from the course with a grade of "F." By "academic dishonesty," I mean PLAGIARISM (the act of representing the work of another as one's own), which the University considers a grave breach of intellectual integrity. All definitions, terminology, concepts, and patterns of organization taken from an outside source must be identified and given credit in any essay or exam you write--whether it be for the English department or any other department. For more detailed information on this, please consult the following: SIUE Plagiarism Policy.

Figure 2. Kismet robot, M.I.T.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (subject to revision as semester progresses)

ECR=Electronic Course Reserves

Wednesday Aug. 27 Introduction to Course
    Alba: The Bioluminescent Bunny
    Jonathan Harris, "The Web's Secret Stories"
    Jonathan Harris, We Feel Fine & Universe
Wednesday Sep. 3 View: David Cronenberg, The Fly (film)
    Harriet Ritvo, "Barring the Cross: Miscegenation and Purity in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Britain" (handout)
Wednesday Sep. 10 Discuss: The Fly
selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses (handout)
Film Clip: Trailer for The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)
Film Clip: The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
H.G. Wells, The Island of Dr. Moreau (synopsis)
Wednesday Sep. 17 Marie de France, "Bisclavret" and "Yonec" (handout)
    Caroline Walker Bynum, "Why All the Fuss About the Body? A Medievalist's Perspective " (handout)
    Andreas Capellanus, De amore (1184-86)
pro bono reading
Larry Benson, "Courtly Love and Chivalry in the Middle Ages"
    Film Clip: American Werewolf in London
    *reading response due
Wednesday Sep. 24 View: David Cronenberg, Existenz (film)
    Jean Baudrillard, "Prophylaxis and Virulence" (in Badmington, Posthumanism)
  pro bono reading Baudrillard, "Simulation and Simulacra"
    Definition: Simulacrum (Wikipedia)
    Notes: Baudrillard's Simulation
    Summary: "Simulation and Simulacra" (Wikipedia)
    Baudrillard and The Matrix
    *reading response due
  student presentation Mary Hicks: Antonio Damasio, "The Body-Minded Brain"
  student presentation Mark Johnson: Robert Pepperell, "Consciousness, Humans, and Complexity"
    Conference: Bodies, Embodiments, Becomings (Saint Louis University)
    Francis Bacon, Triptychs: Three studies of the Human Head, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, Triptych (1971) , Three Studies of Figures on Beds, Three Studies for Self-Portrait, May-June 1973, Studies of the Human Body, Triptych inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschuylus, Triptych (1983)
    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "Year Zero: Faciality" (handout)
    Daniel W. Smith, "Deleuze on Bacon: Three Conceptual Trajectories" (Introduction to Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation)
molar/molecular, assemblage, desiring-machine, BwO (Body without Organs), Rhizome
Jon Brough: Photo Gallery (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
student presentation Jonathan Blaize: Daniel Dennett, "The Reality of Selves"
student presentation Marselle Bredemeyer: Ernst van Elphen, "Bodyscapes" & Roy Boyne, "The Art of the Body in the Discourse of Postmodernity"
Wednesday Oct. 15 Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
    Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense (Google Books; see Preface, "From Lewis Carroll to the Stoics," and first two chapters, "First Series of Paradoxes of Pure Becoming" and "Second Series of Paradoxes of Surface Effects," all of which discuss Alice in Wonderland)
  *reading response due
student presentation Debbie Hard: Bruno Bettelheim, "Life Divined from the Inside," "The Child's Need for Magic," and "The Importance of Externalization: Fantasy Figures and Events," from The Uses of Enchantment
student presentation Cari Nugent: Maria Warner, "Mutating" (section on Hieronymous Bosch)
Wednesday Oct. 22 selections from Grimm's Fairy Tales: "The Frog-Prince," "The Little Brother and Sister," "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Juniper Tree," "Allerleirauh," "The Pink," "Bearskin," "Hans the Hedgehog," "Snow-White and Rose-Red"
    Deleuze and Guattari, excerpts from "1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible" (handout)
    simulacrum, representation, haeccity, becoming
  *reading response due
student presentation Greg Wright: Maria Tatar, "Victims and Seekers: The Family Romance of Fairy Tales"
student presentation Soune Ursani: Jack Zipes, "Once Upon a Time in the Future: The Relevance of Fairy Tales," from Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre
student presentation Debbie Eddy: Catherine Orenstein, "Introduction: Cloaking the Heroine" & "The Waiting Wolf: In the Belly of the Beast," from Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale
Wednesday Oct. 29 View: Steven Spielberg, A.I. (film)
    The Adventures of Pinocchio & The Blue Fairy
    Dominique Janicaud, "The Danger of Monsters" (handout)
    *reading response due
Wednesday Nov. 12 Discuss: A.I. (film)
student presentation Carly Lodgson: Elaine Graham, "What Made Victor's Creature Monstrous?"
student presentation Maren Leonard : Elaine Graham, "The End of the 'Human'?"
student presentation Ashley Forness: David Skal, "I Used to Know Your Daddy: The Horrors of War, Part II" and "It's Alive, I'm Afraid," from The Monster Show: A Cultural History of Horror
Wednesday Nov. 19 Phillip K. Dick, The Three Sigmata of Palmer Eldritch
    autopoiesis, allopoiesis
  student presentation Luke Pinion: Katherine Hayles, "Turning Reality Inside Out and Right Side Out: Boundary Work in the Mid-Sixties Novels of Philip K. Dick"
  student presentation Hilary Pool: Langdon Winner, "Are Humans Obsolete?"
Wednesday Dec. 3 Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods
    The Milgram Experiment & The Stanford Prison Experiment
    The Emotional Nervous (Limbic) System
  student presentation Tristan Nesbitt: Margaret Lock, "Containing the Elusive Body"
  student presentation Laura Blackburn: Judith Butler, "Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy"
Wednesday Dec. 10 Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods
Wednesday Dec. 17 (by midnight) Critical Paper Due (paper must be emailed to me at: ejoy@siue.edu formatted as a Word/.doc or Rich Text Format/.rtf documents)

Figure 3. Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (second version, c. 1944)