Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts


Theory and Criticism


Tom Carmichael


This thesis considers the relationship between Jean Baudrillard’s thought and theories of posthumanism. I argue that Baudrillard’s work is fundamentally posthuman, but that Baudrillard’s posthumanism is one that stands in opposition to main currents of contemporary posthuman theory. Most contemporary posthuman theory, I argue, focus on the dissipation of a liberal humanist subject--and celebrate its loss. Baudrillard’s thought, by contrast, suggests that the posthuman figure only arrives in the age of hyperreality and is therefore intertwined with the oppressive logic of the simulacrum. In my consideration of contemporary posthuman theory, I focus primarily on the work of Katherine Hayles, Cary Wolfe, and Rosi Braidotti to show how each fails to consider the implications of an oppressive posthuman figure and how each therefore mirror the same systemic modes of oppression they purport to challenge. In pursuing my critique, my debt to Baudrillard is both formal and substantial as I adopt his methodological approach, for example, in challenging Karl Marx and Michel Foucault to point to the ways in which these posthuman scholars’s work mirrors, as opposed to challenges, the doctrine of the liberal humanist subject, all the while crafting and illustrating a Baudrillardian posthuman theory. I conclude my thesis by sketching a Baudrillardian theory of resistance to the oppressive posthuman figure of hyperreality by employing his theory of seduction as a challenge to the determinacy of the posthuman subject.