Prophets Of The Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, And The Ethics Of Personhood by Christina Bieber LakeProphets Of The Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, And The Ethics Of Personhood by Christina Bieber Lake

Prophets Of The Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, And The Ethics Of Personhood

byChristina Bieber Lake

Paperback | September 30, 2013

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Prophets of the Posthuman provides a fresh and original reading of fictional narratives that raise the question of what it means to be human in the face of rapidly developing bioenhancement technologies. Christina Bieber Lake argues that works by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, Marilynne Robinson, Raymond Carver, James Tiptree, Jr., and Margaret Atwood must be reevaluated in light of their contributions to larger ethical questions. Drawing on a wide range of sources in philosophical and theological ethics, Lake argues that these writers share a commitment to maintaining a category of personhood more meaningful than that allowed by utilitarian ethics. Prophets of the Posthuman insists that because technology can never ask whether we should do something that we have the power to do, literature must step into that role. 
Each of the chapters of this interdisciplinary study sets up a typical ethical scenario regarding human enhancement technology and then illustrates how a work of fiction uniquely speaks to that scenario, exposing a realm of human motivations that might otherwise be overlooked or simplified. Through the vision of the writers she discusses, Lake uncovers a deep critique of the ascendancy of personal autonomy as America’s most cherished value. This ascendancy, coupled with technology’s glamorous promises of happiness, helps to shape a utilitarian view of persons that makes responsible ethical behavior toward one another almost impossible. Prophets of the Posthuman charts the essential role that literature must play in the continuing conversation of what it means to be human in a posthuman world.
"As we attempt to make sense of the technologically accelerated—and 'enhanced'—world in which we find ourselves, Christina Bieber Lake provides incisive analysis of contemporary encroachments upon our common humanity. She demonstrates how centrally significant the inexorable march of science to know and do whatever it can will be to our individual and collective sense of self." —Avis Hewitt, Grand Valley State University
Christina Bieber Lake is professor of English at Wheaton College. She is the author of The Incarnational Art of Flannery O'Connor.
Title:Prophets Of The Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, And The Ethics Of PersonhoodFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:September 30, 2013Publisher:University of Notre Dame PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0268022364

ISBN - 13:9780268022365

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Editorial Reviews

“Tightly structured the study offers close readings of novels and short stories that illuminate hitherto ignored dynamics of these narratives. Bieber Lake demonstrates their potential to challenge the dominant culture of consumerism, scientific positivism, and the bioenhancement technologies. A rich bibliography ranging from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Ray Kurzweil accompanies the book.”—American Studies “The book skillfully interweaves the futuristic predictions of biotechnology advocates, such as Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Lee Silver, Simon Young, Ray Kurzweil, and Rodney Brooks, with selected narratives from nine of our most perceptive fiction writers. . . . All librarians will find its extensive bibliography a helpful guide to insightful books on bioethics and to some great, ethically engaging fiction.”—Catholic Library World “Christina Bieber Lake masterfully integrates fiction and theology in Prophets of the Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology, and the Ethics of Personhood. She asks pressing questions about what it means to be human in an ever braver, newer world.” —The Christian Century “On the whole, Lake’s argument is key in helping fiction writers, literary scholars, and others engaged in the humanities and arts to make the case for the relevance of fictional narrative to philosophical speculation and scientific pursuit.” —Flannery O’Connor Review “Bieber Lake’s treatment of each prophetic work of fiction shows an expansive awareness of the greater bioethical conversation, with a deft perception of the many implications involving the posthuman condition.” —Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies “Christina Bieber Lake’s Prophets of the Posthuman is an insightful and well-written monograph that brings the work of nine American fiction writers to bear on ethical questions concerning biotechnology. . . Lake’s text is brimming with insightful readings of fiction in dialogue with thoughtful ethical reflections.” —Modern Theology