On Being Human Redux: Further looks at books and movies that examine the question of humanity

An occasional series that is a continuation of my essay anthology, On Being Human: critical looks at books and movies that examine the question of humanity.  (On sale now!  Buy it today or download it for free at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography)

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Sometimes an idea is just too good to give up.  I find this is the case with this new essay series, On Being Human Redux.  Because the question, “What does it mean to be human?” provided such a wealth of subject matter, it is worth revisiting.  In this case, I wanted to look again at subjects I covered in my book, On Being Human, like the works of Samuel Beckett and Iain Banks’s Culture novels.  I’ll take a look at Steven Spielberg’s controversial film about androids, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and explore the political and cultural ramifications of artificial humans in Joel Shepherd’s brilliant Cassandra Kresnov series.  Clones will be the subject of my essays on Orphan Black and Cloud Atlas.  I’ll revisit the subgenre of serial killer fiction with Monster, by Joyce Carol Oates.  Class has a way of dehumanizing people, so I’ll take a look at The Hunger Games trilogy.  The Inheritors, by William Golding presents a fascinating case study of a novel based on our earliest hominid ancestors.  I will also investigate anthropomorphized rabbits in the works of Richard Adams and Beatrix Potter.

And here’s a list of books, movies, and TV shows I’ll explore:

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, directed by Steven Spielberg (2001)

The Cassandra Kresnov series, by Joel Shepherd
Crossover (2001)
Breakaway (2003)
Killswitch (2004)
23 Years on Fire (2013)
Operation Shield (2014)

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (2004)

Orphan Black (BBC America; 2013 – Present)

Use of Weapons, by Iain Banks (1990)

All Bunnies Edition:
Watership Down (1972), by Richard Adams
Tales from Watership Down (1996), by Richard Adams
The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902), by Beatrix Potter

The Hunger Games trilogy, by Susanne Collins
The Hunger Games (2008)
Catching Fire (2009)
Mockingjay (2010)

The Inheritors, by William Golding (1955)

Endgame, by Samuel Beckett (1957)

Zombie, by Joyce Carol Oates (1995)

Invitation to a Beheading, by Vladimir Nabokov (1938; English translation, 1959)

The Tunnel, by William Gass (1995)

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