Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

"Never Mind the Future; Let's Get on with the Past": [Urging] 'The Mind to Aftersight and Foresight'

Pamela Dale Ryan.

My title consists of two quotations, the first from a recent song by Sting; the second from T S Eliot's Four Quartets. Both texts are in their own specific ways meditations on the nature of time, the significance of memory, the place of history. In this paper, I want to ponder the concept of a human future by examining the capacity of narrative (used here in its broadest sense of story-telling) to imagine both the past and the future. Using a variety of texts and theoretical concepts including Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, Baudrillard's hyperreal, Donna Haraway's cybernetics, Deleuze and Guiattari's rhizomatics, amongst others, this paper will position the humanities within a range of possibilities as we begin to 'witness' ourselves 'in the gaze of the future' (Baudrillard).


Pamela Dale Ryan  (South Africa)
Chair: Department of English
Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
University of South Africa

Pamela Ryan is at present Chair of the Department of English at the University of South Africa. Her areas of specialization include gender theory, psychoanalysis, colonial writing, women's writing. She has been a fellow of CRASSH, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge where she undertook research into colonial education for girls in apartheid Natal.

  • Narrative
  • Hyperreal
  • Cyborg

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)