Event Title

Witches, Elves, and Bioengineers: Magic and Science in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows

Presenter Information

Laura Wiebe, McMaster University

Location

Panel 17: Kearney 317

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

Vampires, werewolves, witches and elves are popular characters in fantasy fiction across media. Such nonhuman protagonists and villains are often read as allegorical representations of human identity categories, of our struggles to explore, understand and assert (or potentially complicate) notions of difference and the heterogeneous societies in which we live. Yet, at the literal level, such characters are explicitly not human so that their drives, motivations, senses and sensibilities are framed as distinct from those of their human counterparts, even meant to be seen as incomprehensible in human terms. In such contexts, tensions between the allegorical humanity of nonhuman characters and their asserted inhumanity might be considered, I argue, as part of a broader ongoing conceptual struggle with contemporary humans’ uneasy fix on human identity and rationality, the unstable alignment of human rationality with Western technoscientific modernity, and the way in which the West has used the oppositions between science and tradition, or science and magic, in order to police the lines between those who are fully human and those who are, ostensibly, not. To this end, this paper examines the role of technoscience in a contemporary urban fantasy series by Kim Harrison called The Hollows, which takes place in a world where science and magic, humans and nonhumans, coexist in a different kind of relation.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

Witches, Elves, and Bioengineers: Magic and Science in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows

Panel 17: Kearney 317

Vampires, werewolves, witches and elves are popular characters in fantasy fiction across media. Such nonhuman protagonists and villains are often read as allegorical representations of human identity categories, of our struggles to explore, understand and assert (or potentially complicate) notions of difference and the heterogeneous societies in which we live. Yet, at the literal level, such characters are explicitly not human so that their drives, motivations, senses and sensibilities are framed as distinct from those of their human counterparts, even meant to be seen as incomprehensible in human terms. In such contexts, tensions between the allegorical humanity of nonhuman characters and their asserted inhumanity might be considered, I argue, as part of a broader ongoing conceptual struggle with contemporary humans’ uneasy fix on human identity and rationality, the unstable alignment of human rationality with Western technoscientific modernity, and the way in which the West has used the oppositions between science and tradition, or science and magic, in order to police the lines between those who are fully human and those who are, ostensibly, not. To this end, this paper examines the role of technoscience in a contemporary urban fantasy series by Kim Harrison called The Hollows, which takes place in a world where science and magic, humans and nonhumans, coexist in a different kind of relation.