Inspiring Minds seeks to broaden awareness and impact of graduate student research, while enhancing transferable skills. Students were challenged to describe their research, scholarship or creative activity in 150 or fewer words to share with our community.

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Posthuman novels: how stories of clones, robots and animals reshape our understanding of the Human

Traditionally, language, intelligence and emotions have been attributed to humans. Those deemed devoid of these qualities are labelled as “others” and become “disposable bodies”. The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded humans of their vulnerability - a characteristic shared with all the living world - and has made obvious their increased dependence on science and technologies. It has highlighted the imperative to rethink the autonomy of humans to move towards a definition that takes into account interconnections with other species and technologies. Stories depicting non-human characters blur the boundaries between what is human and what is not. My research focuses on analysing French novels that question the frontiers of humans. In Marie Darrieussecq’s book Our life in the forests, readers discover that the narrator is a clone and not a “real” human. They experience confusion and are invited to rethink humanity as a moving scale rather than a closed and fixed category.

Fanny Leveau
PhD candidate, French Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities - Western University

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Fanny Leveau is a PhD candidate in French Studies. She works in the fields of contemporary French literature and critical posthumanism. She studies novels that challenge the traditional and dualistic definition of the human. Her research is funded by the SSHRC. Prior to this, she obtained a Master of Laws and worked for NGOs advocating for gender justice and children’s rights.

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