Maria Whiteman is Assistant Professor of Drawing and Intermedia in Fine Arts. Her current art practice explores two main themes: relationships between industry, community and nature; and the place of animals in our cultural and social imaginary. In addition to her studio work, she conducts research in art theory (especially with respect to photography), animal studies and cultural studies. Her most recent exhibition was De Anima at FAB Gallery (2010) and one of her pieces was selected for the Canadian Landscape Juried Exhibition. She taught previously in Multimedia, Studio Art and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.


Fall 2011 Interdisciplinary Course Seminar Grants, Cycle One

Art and Posthumanism

The discourses of posthumanism constitute one of the most exciting areas of contemporary critical thought. Posthumanism is the name for forms of critical, cultural and social theory that take up the consequences of the myriad challenges made to classical humanism and the divisions (moral, epistemological, political, ethical) that it has supported. Of specific importance to this discourse are those distinctions that have been made between human and animal, flesh and technology, society and nature, and man and his other – divisions that have long defined and delimited the possibilities and responsibilities of human beings towards the rest of the world. Posthumanism seeks to re-define the human in order to help change the character of our relationship to the world, especially (though not only) our relation to the environment—a critical relationship given the ecological crises we have produced, which constitute a threat not only to the earth’s environment but to the human itself.

This graduate seminar/studio-practicum course is designed to allow students to encounter some of the main texts of posthumanism and to consider how these discourses function both in cultural/critical theory and in contemporary visual arts. In addition, this course gives students an opportunity to experiment with the production of visual texts (photography, video, installation, etc.) as a mode of research into and representation of posthumanist themes and concerns. The interdisciplinary character of this course comes both from its subject matter and from the way in which graduate students will be enabled to engage with it: through the creation of visual art in addition to the forms of textual research carried out in most disciplinary fields in the Faculty of Arts.