A genealogy of cyborgothic: aesthetics and ethics in the age of posthumanism
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This dissertation considers the future convergence between gothic studies and humanism in the age of posthumanism and proposes “cyborgothic” as a new literary genre that heralds that future. The convergence under consideration is already in progress in that an encounter between human and non-human consistently inspires the two fields, questioning the nature of humans and the treatment of such non-human beings as cyborgs. Such questioning, often conducted within the boundary of humanities, persistently interprets non-human beings as either representing or helping human shortcomings. Accordingly, answers are human-orientated or even human-centered in many cases, and “cyborgothic,” generated out of retrospective investigation into gothic studies and prospective formulation of posthumanism, aims to present different, nonanthropocentric ways to view humans and non-humans on equal terms. The retrospective investigation into gothic studies focuses on Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho and Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful to retrieve a gothic aesthetics of the beautiful, and in the second chapter, examines Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein against Kant’s aesthetics to demonstrate how this gothic aesthetics becomes obsolete in the tradition of the sublime. This dissertation then addresses Bram Stoker’s Dracula along with Bruno Latour’s Science in Action to reveal problems in fabricating scientific knowledge, especially focusing on sacrifices made in the process. In the forth chapter, I examine Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith with William James’s pragmatism, and consider the question of how moral complications inherent in science have been handled in American society. The last chapter proposes Marge Piercy’s He, She and It as a same cyborgothic text, which tries to develop a way to acknowledge the presence of the cyborg—one that is at once aesthetical and ethical—so as to enable humans and cyborgs to relate each other on equal terms. Thus, “cyborgothic” is being required as a literary attempt to present the age of posthumanism that is no longer anthropocentric.
Yi, Dongshin (2007). A genealogy of cyborgothic: aesthetics and ethics in the age of posthumanism. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from