Do Medieval and Renaissance Androids Presage the Posthuman?

Do Medieval and Renaissance Androids Presage the Posthuman?

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Do Medieval and Renaissance Androids Presage the Posthuman?

LaGrandeur, Kevin

Comparative Literature and Culture, Volume 12, Issue 3, (September 2010) Article 3


In his article “Do Medieval and Renaissance Androids Presage the Posthuman?” Kevin LaGrandeur analyzes the relationships between literary images of artificial humans associated with medieval alchemists and alchemy, their modified reemergence in the Renaissance, and how such androids may forecast the idea of a posthuman subjectivity that is connected with their present-day descendents. For example, the talking brass heads in Robert Greene’s two Renaissance plays, The Honorable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and Alphonsus, Prince of Aragon have their roots in Arabic sources, and the former derives specifically from legends concerning the thirteenth-century alchemist and philosopher Roger Bacon. These early instances of the artificial anthropoid also anticipate, in a broad sense, the kinds of philosophical issues regarding subjectivity that cyborgs bring up for our “posthuman” society. The literature of the earlier era also represents a fear that humans will be diminished-all of the creators in the fictional literature examined are in danger of losing control of their creations, and thus of having their agency called into dispute.

Comparative Literature and Culture

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