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Peter Gilgen

Literature and the Post-Humanist Turn (07.06.2016)


It comes as no surprise that in an age that is captivated by posthumanism in its sundry forms, the humanities seem to have lost much of their pertinence. However, literary theory, which over the past two decades has mutated into just “theory,” has shown real aptness in dealing with human border zones, the primary posthumanist domains. Is it appropriate, then, to speak of a posthumanist turn or reorientation in relation to literature and the literary humanities? In order to answer this question, one will have to take into account how an injection of posthumanist theorizing into our critical frameworks may radically put them into question or at least exert pressure on some of our ingrained concepts and routines. In other words, does the consideration of posthumanist claims on the part of the humanities turn these disciplines into something we might call, on good conceptual grounds, “the posthumanities”? How much of our current practice will be deemed compatible with new demands and protocols that arise in the wake of such disciplinary upheaval and realignment? This lecture concludes that literature is bound to play a central role in the further development of posthumanist thinking and its peculiar modes of inquiry.


Main Research Interests

  • Eighteenth- to Twentieth-Century Literature and Philosophy 

  • Literary and Media Theory 

  • Lyric Poetry and Poetics  

  • Systems Theory

Publications (selected)

  • Lektüren der Erinnerung: Lessing, Kant, Hegel. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2012.
  • With Peter Uwe Hohendahl and Thomas Teufel: Back to Kant II: The Fate of Kant in a Time of Crisis. The Philosophical Forum 41:1-2 (2010): 1-230.
  • Unterlandschaft. Eggingen: Edition Isele, 1999.