Embodying Technesis: Technology beyond Writing

Critics of contemporary culture have argued that critical theory must keep pace with technological change and, in the process, have instituted a theoretical model that restricts consideration of technology's impact on human experience to those dimensions that can be captured in language. In this wide-ranging critical study of poststructuralism's legacy to contemporary cultural studies, Mark Hansen challenges the hegemony of this model, contending that technologies fundamentally alter our sensory experience and drastically affect what it means to live as embodied human agents. Embodying Technesis examines how technological changes have rendered obsolete notions of technology as machine and as text. Voicing a sustained plea for rethinking the technological, Hansen argues that radical technological changes--from the steam engine to the internet and virtual reality--have fundamentally altered conditions of perception and, in so doing, changed the prevailing structures of modern experience. By emphasizing the dynamic interaction between technologies and bodies, between the diffuse effects of technological shifts and the collective embodied experiences of contemporary agents, Hansen opens the path for a radical revision of our understanding of the technological. Mark Hansen is Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University.