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2017 Fall Faculty Colloquium Faculty Participant

Deadline: Monday, February 20, 2017 11:59pm


The Hall Center sponsors colloquia that are designed to enliven the intellectual atmosphere of the University of Kansas and contribute to the growth of KU scholars. The colloquium directors determine the theme, provide intellectual leadership and guidance, act as coordinators and facilitate feedback to participants on their presentations. The participants each present a paper and contribute to the discussion.



Six or seven KU faculty members and one or two KU graduate student from any social science, arts, humanities, or related discipline will be selected. Faculty participants will receive $1000 (via payroll, minus taxes) and the graduate student will be awarded $500.


THEME:  The Posthuman?

DIRECTORS: Allan Hanson, Emeritus Professor, Anthropology; and John Symons, Professor and Chair, Philosophy.


Are we morphing into something beyond the human? 

Today's bewildering onslaught of technology supplements-and often replaces-what were once defining features of our humanity.  Freezing of sperm and eggs and intravaginal insertion or in-vitro insemination mean that sexual intercourse is no longer necessary for having children.  Mother and father might never have met one another or be aware of each other's existence.  One or both of them can even be dead at the time of fertilization.  Robots do much of the work that used to be reserved for humans, as well as taking the form of soft, cuddly and responsive pets that provide "human" companionship. Artificial intelligence in the form of expert systems draws up wills and diagnoses disease, often with greater success rates than human professionals can achieve.  Computerized analyses and Big Data may generate better models of the climate, demographic trends, or more insightful analyses of Shakespeare than any human scholar could.  Robots are already important designers of other robots.  A Singularity has been envisioned that will mark the moment when artificial intelligence exceeds human intelligence.  If so, no one knows what will happen next, although science fiction authors have no shortage of imaginative ideas about the prospects.

...Or, it may be that the whole idea of the posthuman is misguided.  Artificial intelligence may be fundamentally different from human intelligence, a supplement rather than a competitor.  All current technological developments may signal nothing other than an unfolding actualization of what it is to be human. 

In a word, this colloquium raises the question of whether a posthuman condition exists.  If not, why not?  If so, what is it (or will it be) like?  Papers are encouraged that explore any of the many facets of that issue, be they drawn from engineering, philosophy, natural sciences, social sciences, law, medicine, literature or the arts.  Ideally the colloquium will contain scholars from a wide range of disciplines, who will stimulate each other to think about the question in new ways.

During the first two meetings of the colloquium, participants will discuss a small set of foundational texts to provide the common ground for later conversations. For much of the rest of the semester, each weekly meeting will focus on papers from colloquium participants (1 per session) that explore facets of the debate over the posthuman.  Each colloquium member will distribute his or her paper well in advance of the meeting in which it is to be discussed.  One or more external speakers will be brought to campus to address the colloquium and the wider university community.

Outcomes:  In addition to the intellectual stimulation of the colloquium itself, we hope to gather the papers from participants and external speakers together into a volume on facets of the posthuman. 


 Be a graduate student in good standing or hold a tenured or tenure track faculty appointment at the University of Kansas, including faculty in phased retirement.


 Colloquium participants are required to:

1.   Attend all colloquium sessions, read and be ready to discuss all papers submitted by colloquium members;

2.   Contribute a paper for discussion at one colloquium session;

3.  Act as discussant for one paper presented by another colloquium member;

4.   Provide a written version of their paper for possible inclusion in a published volume.


All application materials must be submitted through the Hall Center Competitions Portal.  Paper submissions will not be accepted.  For an application to be verified as complete, and thus forwarded for committee review, applicants must:

1. Create an account or log in to an existing account.

2. Select the Apply Now button next to this competition. 

3. Complete the Applicant Information form in the Portal. 

4. Upload the following materials as 2 separate PDF or Word files:

a. Curriculum Vitae (not to exceed 2 pages) that includes:

* Record of applicant's education, including the dates when degrees were awarded;

* Record of applicant's employment;

* List of applicant's publications, including page numbers for journal articles and book chapters; and

* List of applicant's awards and grants received during the last five years.

b. Statement of Interest not to exceed two double-spaced pages, with one-inch margins and twelve-point type. Endnotes are included in the page limitations. The narrative should indicate how the colloquium theme and questions outlined above relate to a proposed paper based on research that is to be shared with the colloquium for a critique. Be as specific as possible about the proposed research paper's focus, content, and contribution to the applicant's field of study.

5.  Once the application materials are complete, submit them for review by following the on-screen instructions for final submission.   

No extraneous materials will be considered.



A committee appointed by the Hall Center Director and including the Colloquium Director selects the colloquium participants according to the following criteria:

1. Merit of the statement of interest and the participants potential for interdisciplinary work;

2. Quality of the conception, organization and description of the statement of interest; and

3. Likelihood that the applicant's participation will lead to a significant contribution to knowledge in the pertinent genre, tradition or field upon publication.



Applicants should direct all questions about the Fall Faculty Colloquium to Sally Utech, Hall Center Acting Director(4-7823; sutech@ku.edu), or Colloquium Directors Allan Hanson (841-3026, hanson@ku.edu) or John Symons (4-1948, johnsymons@ku.edu).

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