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Seminar Series - The posthuman university?: hybrid spaces and literacy practices

Date: 16 February 2011 Time: 12.30 - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: FASS Building, MR1

Dr Lesley Gourlay

Centre for Academic and Professional Literacies (CAPLITS)

Institute of Education, University of London

At this seminar I will argue that the increased ubiquity of digital technologies such as 'Web 2.0' applications, social networking software, virtual worlds and networked mobile devices emphasise the central importance of representational practices to higher education. As digital media become more and more widespread educational process, some common dichotomies are called into question, such as the supposedly straightforward binaries of material vs. virtual, presence vs. absence, digital vs. analogue. Drawing on the literature on multimodality and posthuman theory, I will propose that these technologies should be understood primarily as media practices, using a range of semiotic resources in the construction of meaning and subjectivities in higher education. Referring to the work of Haraway (1991) and Hayles (1999, 2006), I will discuss the notion of a hybridised student subject, interacting in this new, fluid setting. I will look in particular at the use of the virtual learning environment (VLE) around and during the face-to-face lecture and will also examine student use of networked devices, and the implications of these practices for notions of temporality and 'presence'. I will also explore the implications of digital mediation for student writing and notions of the 'author'. There will be ample opportunity for audience participation and discussion around these themes, and what a posthuman reading of these practices might offer us in combination with more established forms of enquiry around multimodality and literacies. The seminar will conclude with suggested research directions in order to explore these themes, and will offer some speculative thoughts on implications for practice.


Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London: Routledge.

Hayles, N. (1999). How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. London: University of Chicago Press.

Hayles, N. (2006). Unfinished work: from cyborg to cognisphere. Theory, Culture, Society, 23/7-8.


Who can attend: Anyone


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