Lectures

Facta Ficta Research Centre organises keynote lectures of Polish and international experts researching key contemporary topics in the humanities. Lectures usually accompany our international and nationwide conferences and, if possible, are recorded and uploaded on Facta Ficta channel on YouTube.

Lists of English lectures hosted by Facta Ficta Research Centre:

  1. Gregory Claeys, Monstrosity and Dystopia: An Overview (23.03.2017)
  2. Marie-Laure Ryan, On the Worldness of Narrative Representation (24.09.2016)
  3. Gregory Claeys, Utopia at 500. A Final Reckoning? (10.03.2016).
  4. Artur Blaim, Dystopianising More’s Utopia (11.03.2016).
  5. Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim, Dystopian Embassies and Beyonds (12.03.2016).
  6. Stefan Ekman, Beyond the Margins of the Map (21.01.2016).
  7. Matthew E. Gladden, Cybershells, Shapeshifting, and Neuroprosthetics: Video Games as Tools for Posthuman ‘Body Schema (Re)Engineering’ (6.06.2015).
  8. Alan N. Shapiro, Storytelling and Ideas in the Age of Computer-Intensive Media Products (23.03.2015).

Gregory Claeys, Monstrosity and Dystopia: An Overview

4. Annual Symposium His Master’s Voice. Utopias, Dystopias & Ecotopias, 23-25 March 2017, Villa Decius, Kraków.

This illustrated talk surveys the relationship between discourses on and theories about monstrosity to dystopia from the classical world to the present. Its focus is firstly upon the Christian reconceptualisation of monstrosity in the personage of Satan, secondly upon the idea of monstrous populations in fabulous countries, and finally upon the reinvention of monstrosity through the Frankenstein motif and related themes. Reference will be made to ancient travel narratives, the Voyages of Sir John Mandeville, the myth of St George slaying the dragon (Satan) and many other discussions of human identity in relation to the monstrous, the animal, and the mechanical.


Marie-Laure Ryan, On the Worldness of Narrative Representation

International Conference Expanding Universes. Exploring Transmedial & Transfictional Ways of World-building, 23-25 September 2016, Wydział Polonistyki Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego

Long used in an informal way by literary critics, the term of world, and more particularly of storyworld has recently gained traction as the designation of that which narrative texts display to the mind of the reader and spectator. Two factors contribute to this theoretical surge: first, interest in the experience of immersion, since immersion presupposes some kind of surrounding substance, which is better described as “world” than as “ocean”; and second, interest in the phenomena of transmedia storytelling, since the medium-independent concept of “storyworld” can function as the common referent that unites the elements of a transmedia system. Yet for all its newly-found prominence the notion of world remains relatively undertheorized. In this presentation I propose to interrogate the “worldness” of narrative representation from a perspective inspired at least in part by Possible Worlds Theory. Starting from a definition of storyworlds as totalities that encompass space, time, and individual existants who undergo transformations as the result of events, I will examine them in terms of the following variables: (1) distance from the actual world, a criterion that raises the question of how far one has to travel away from the world made familiar to us by life experience for the notion of world to become inapplicable; (2) size, a variable that leads from the small worlds of micro-narratives to the large words of transmedia franchises; and (3) ontological completeness, a variable that leads from worlds assumed to share the ontological status of the actual world, despite gaps in their representations, to worlds that present ontological gaps that cannot be filled by what I have called the principle of minimal departure. These two cases will be illustrated by a reading of a classical play (Racine’s Phèdre) and a reading of a play from the theatre of the absurd (Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot).


Gregory Claeys, Utopia at 500. A Final Reckoning?

3rd Annual Symposium His Master’s Voice. More After More: Utopias & Dystopias 1516-2016, 10 March 2016, Villa Decius, Kraków.

Keynote lecture delivered at the 3rd special edition of „His Master’s Voice” conference cycle, commemorating the 500th Anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia


Matthew E. Gladden, Cybershells, Shapeshifting, and Neuroprosthetics: Video Games as Tools for Posthuman ‘Body Schema (Re)Engineering’

Nationwide Conference Dyskursy gier wideo, 5-7 czerwca 2015, Faculty of Humanities at AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków

Abstract:
In a number of popular video games, the player character’s (originally human) body undergoes a temporary or permanent transformation to take on a radically different physical form, such as that of an animal, mythical creature, machine, or cloud of energy. In fantasy games, such a transformation might be caused by a magical spell, ability, or item; in science fiction games, the character’s body might be transformed through cybernetic augmentation, mind uploading, or ‘jacking in’toexperience cyberspace through a virtualavatar.In the real world, researchers have found that the human brain utilizes a ‘body schema’ to control the body and interpret sense data received through it, and that the brain displays a significant ability to update its body schema to reflect bodily changes resulting from growth, illness, injury, or the addition of prosthetic devices. However, it is unknown how dramatically a human body can be transformed before the brain loses its ability to communicate with and control it. This question of whether the human mind can interact with the world without the use of a human body has occupied philosophers from the times of Aquinas and Descartes through the present day. Here we argue that videogamescan play a crucial role in aiding us to solve this mystery – and thus in ascertaining the extent to which the reengineering of the form and function of the human body envisioned by many transhumanist and posthumanist thinkers may or may not be possible.

We begin bysuggesting that differences in how body transformation is depicted in fantasy versus science fiction games reveal game designers’ implicit insights into the limits of our brain’s ability to adapt to a changed body.We then argue that the sensorimotor feedback loop experienced while playing video games – which is not present in other media such as books or films – creates a unique opportunity to explore how greatly the human brain’s body schema can be extended or transformed to accommodate the possession of a radically non-human body.In this fashion, the designers and players of computer gamers are working at the frontiers of an emerging field of ‘body schema engineering.’ Their experiences will aid humanity to understandthe extent to which it may or may not be possible to develop posthuman technologies such as xenosomatic prosthetics (which provide a human mind with the experience of possessing a body radically different from its natural human body), neosomatic prosthetics (which physically replace all of a person’s body apart fromthe brain with a synthetic housing that may or may not resemble a human body), and moioprosthetics (specialized neosomatic prosthetics that encase thehuman brain within a standardized ‘cyberbrain’ that can be easily swapped among different robotic‘cybershells’ in the form of humanoid or animal bodies, vehicles, or buildings). Finally, we suggest thatreflecting oncomputer gamers’ in-game experiences of possessing and utilizing non-human bodies canhelpus to anticipate and understand the novel psychological conditions – whether disorders or enhancements – that may result from the long-term use of body-altering neuroprosthetics.Through their exploitation of video games’ body-transformingcapabilities, gamers canbecome pioneers and heralds of new posthuman ways of existing and interacting with reality.


Alan N. Shapiro, Storytelling and Ideas in the Age of Computer-Intensive Media Products

2nd Annual Symposium His Master’s Voice. Utopias &  Dystopias in Audiovisual Culture, 23 March 2015, The Pusłowski Palace in Kraków

Abstract:
I will consider the relationship between practical media productions (e.g., movies, video games, music, digital art, transmedial worlds) and ideas. Ideas which come from the humanities, from philosophy and sociology, from art history, from design theory, from cultural theory, and from literary theory. My major example will be science fiction films. Utopian (and dystopian) studies encompasses primarily literary studies and social theory, and also something practical: utopian social experiments in practice, like the Paris Commune of 1871, or the Israeli Kibbutzim, or even the former Soviet Union (utopia and dystopia mixed up together). To speak of utopias and dystopias is, for me, to focus on science fiction studies, and even science fiction theory. Science fiction appears to be about the future, but it is really about the present. The future scenarios that SF depicts are metaphorical for what is going on today. Science fiction products like Star Trek, Total Recall, and Planet of the Apes became icons of our culture because they were great stories, because they were infused with narrative, because they were TV episodes or films of ideas. The remakes of Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and Total Recall are different. They emphasize action, special effects, and computer animation. I don’t say inferior, I say different. My question is: is there a way that the aesthetics of action, special effects and computer animation could be combined with storytelling and narrative and ideas in a new way (it’s not a nostalgia for the good old late 1960s or the good old early 1980s) – could a new kind of great storytelling emerge from this contemporary aesthetic? I value literary theory. Literary Theory meets Hypermedia Culture. Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World. Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in WesternLiterature. Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. Jean-Paul Sartre, What is Literature? György Lukács – The Theory of the Novel. Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation. What if we take ideas from these great classical works of literary theory and apply those ideas to contemporary computer-intensive media products – what will come out of that? What are some of the most advanced forms of knowledge that we have? Computer animation, special effects, action – this is advanced knowledge. Narrative and literary theory – this is advanced knowledge. Let us bring these two forms of advanced knowledge together.

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