My research began with the search for a posthumanist thinking in Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818), and James Cameron’s film Avatar (2009). Presently, I am focused on the question of the “human”, with a nod to Jacques Derrida’s understanding that a posthumanist thinking can only emerge from within Humanism, by working through humanist thought. With regard to this I am looking at the question of what it means to be human through the lens of two contemporary novels namely, J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K (1983) and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006). In both novels the question of what it means to be human can be seen as a predominant theme.
More importantly, my research is concerned with what writers can do with philosophical ideas of the human. From this perspective my thesis looks at literary thechniques such as voice, narrative structure, symbolism, and in the case of The Road, how the lyricism of his prose imagines the human condition. It asks whether writers are able to take philosophical ideas of the human and through the aesthetics of the contemporary novel imagine other ways of being.
Recently, in line with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “broad and vulgar ‘definition’ of the imagination” as “thinking absent things” (16), I am exploring whether these authors use of the imagination allows them to “think” a representation of human experience that exceeds the boundaries of binary opposites, while still remaining in the system. Thus pointing towards a posthumanist thought.