Are we not men? When the human-animal cyborg talks back

Tsitas, E and Dethridge, L 2013, 'Are we not men? When the human-animal cyborg talks back' in Nicholas van Orden (ed.) Navigating Cybercultures, Inter-Disciplinary Press, United Kingdom, pp. 125-134.

Document type: Book Chapter
Collection: Book Chapters

Title Are we not men? When the human-animal cyborg talks back
Author(s) Tsitas, E
Dethridge, L
Year 2013
Title of book Navigating Cybercultures
Publisher Inter-Disciplinary Press
Place of publication United Kingdom
Editor(s) Nicholas van Orden
Start page 125
End page 134
Subjects Culture, Gender, Sexuality
Cinema Studies
Summary The invented animal, a term used by Donna Haraway to describe the genetically engineered, patented animal, has its genesis in science fiction in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and H.G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau. In the twenty first century, this invented animal is, according to Haraway, a 'genetically engineered being who haunts many places.' Both human and animal, this hybrid character-a true cyborg blurring the species boundary-also haunts contemporary science fiction. Vincenzo Natali's 2009 transgenic science fiction horror film Splice joins Mikhail Bulgakov's long-banned novel A Dog's Heart, Maureen Duffy's parable of the destruction of human individuality Gor Saga, and the postmodern Frankenstein that is Kirsten Bakis's Lives of the Monster Dogs, in providing a voice to a protagonist who is a hybrid with the power of language. Jeremy Bentham's famous response to Descartes, 'the question with animals is not can they talk, or can they reason, but can they suffer,' is turned on its head in science fiction when the animal, merged by science with the human, can both reason and talk about its suffering. The hybrid creature represents cultural and social anxiety, challenging us to consider cyborg citizenship and rights in a posthuman reality. This paper investigates Splice, a science fiction narrative that raises the question of how we consider the status of the hybrid creature. With language a challenge to speciesism, we are forced to confront whether the hybrid's animality or its humanness is to be privileged. By using Donna Haraway's theories about the cyborg, this paper explores what is revealed when language, which has defined a key aspect of humanity, is now shared with the animal.
Copyright notice © Inter-Disciplinary Press 2013
Keyword(s) Cyborgs
Donna Haraway
science fiction
ISBN 9781848881631
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