Monday, December 3, 2012

New Directions Proposal: Early Christian Texts and Cybernetics

Elizabeth L. Jones will present "Early Christian Texts and Cybernetics"  

Abstract: For this presentation, I want to look at the works of Justin Martyr, primarily his first apology, from the perspective of cybernetics, primarily through Hayles’ work in How We Became Posthuman. Although the first apology has been criticized as a flawed argument, Justin nevertheless draws on Greek philosophers, embodied in the 2nd Sophistic, the period during which he lived. Although Justin can be interpreted through a comparison with Plato’s Apology, his apology also represents the work made possibly by the technology of writing. Although the premise underlying cybernetics and systems theories is their universal application, the principles Hayles lays out in her project seem to be more evident during periods of upheaval or in the conflicts between philosophies, religions, and political systems. Although Christians were subject to persecution in the Roman Empire during Justin’s lifetime, this persecution was often selective. Justin seems to have drawn more attention to himself through the publication of his apology. He subjected himself to risk through the embodiment of his faith through his texts. Through the technology of writing, he also establishes a virtual audience with the emperor of Rome and his sons (biological and adopted). Justin’s apology also reveals the degree to which Christianity, while suggesting a virtual presence of the adherent in heaven, is invested in embodiment through baptism of the body and partaking in the eucharist. In the end, Justin embodies his philosophy/faith (the two are not distinct) through martyrdom.

Elizabeth L. Jones: I am a full-time instructor of composition at University of Illinois Springfield and a part-time PhD student at Illinois State University. My interests lie in rhetorics about public lands, religion, music, and animal welfare issues. Within these studies, I have focused on the concepts of normativity and subjectivity, and I am interested in normativity in both negative and positive connotations. The program in which I teach is based in a combination of social constructionist theories and genre theory.

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