For the 2010 meeting in Venice, Italy, of the Renaissance Society of America, I am looking for papers that address artificial life or intelligence in the early modern period. I welcome a variety of disciplinary perspectives, from history of science to art history and literary studies.
The definition of life seems to be a particularly 20th- or 21st- century conundrum with our current debates over the ethics of cloning, abortion, and stem-cell research. Although the Judeo-Christian creation story set forth in Genesis established orthodox views on the origins of life and the differences among humans and other animals, the period saw its own upheavals in the understanding of life, from the discovery of bizarre life forms in newly explored regions of the planet to the revelations of the microscope. I invite papers that look at the possibilities for artificial life or artificial intelligence, as they were explored in fields such as alchemy, natural philosophy, mechanics and clockworks, or mathematics. What does the early modern quest for artificial life tell us about religious, metaphysical, scientific, or political definitions of the body and mind?
Please send a CV and abstract of no more than 150 words by 18 May to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Saint John's College
60 College Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21402 USA
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