Hayles, N. Katherine 1943-
Hayles, N. Katherine 1943-
Born December 16, 1943, in St. Louis, MO; daughter of Edward (a mail carrier) and Thelma Bruns; married William Hayles, July 26, 1969 (marriage ended, 1979); married Nicholas Gessler, August 6, 1994; children: (first marriage) Lynn Hayles Rathjen, Jonathan. Ethnicity: "German descent." Education: Rochester Institute of Technology, B.S. (with highest honors), 1966; California Institute of Technology, M.S., 1969; Michigan State University, M.A., 1970; University of Rochester, Ph.D., 1977.
Xerox Corp., Rochester, NY, research chemist, 1966; Beckman Instrument Co., Fullerton, CA, chemical research consultant, 1968-70; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, instructor, 1975-76, assistant professor of English, 1976-82; University of Missouri—Rolla, assistant professor of English, 1982-85; University of Iowa, Iowa City, associate professor, 1985-89, professor of English, 1990-92, Millington F. Carpenter Professor of English, 1989-92; University of California, Los Angeles, began professor, became distinguished professor in the departments of English and design/media arts, 1992-2008; Duke Univeristy, Durham, NC, professor of literature, beginning 2008. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, visiting associate, 1979-80, visiting associate professor, 1988; Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, Mellon distinguished visiting professor, 1994.
Modern Language Association of America (member of executive committee, Literature and Science Division, 1988-92; chair of prize committee, 1997), Society for Literature and Science (president, 1991-93), Phi Beta Kappa, Electronic Literature Organization (member of board of literary advisors).
National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1979-80; fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars fellow, 1985; Guggenheim fellow, 1991-92; presidential research fellow, Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow, Stanford Humanities Center, 1991-92; Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award and Eby Award for distinction in undergraduate teaching, University of California, Los Angeles, both 1999; Distinguished Scholar Award, International Association of Fantastic in the Arts, 1997; Medal of Honor, University of Helsinki, 1997; Distinguished Scholar Award, University of Rochester, 1998; Bellagio residential fellow, Rockefeller Foundation, 1999; Eaton Award for best book in science fiction theory and criticism, and Rene Wellek Prize for best book in literary theory, American Comparative Literature Association, both 1998-99, and citation for "one of the best twenty-five books of 1999," Village Voice, all for How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics.
The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1984.
Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1990.
(Editor) Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1991.
How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1999.
Writing Machines, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
(Editor) Nanoculture: Implications of the New Technoscience, Intellect Books (Portland, OR), 2004.
My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2005.
Contributor to books, including A Question of Identity: Women, Science, and Literature, edited by Marina Benjamin, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1993; Futurenatural: Nature, Science, Culture, edited by George Robertson, Melinda Mash, Lisa Tickner, and others, Routledge (New York, NY), 1996; Immortal Engines: Life Extension and Immortality in Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by George Slusser, Gary Westfahl, and Eric S. Rabkin, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1996; Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Culture and Literary Theory, edited by Marie-Laure Ryan, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1999; and From Energy to Information, edited by Linda Henderson and Bruce Clarke, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2001. Cochair of "Electronic Mediation Series," University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), and "Literature and Science Series," University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI). Contributor to literature journals and other periodicals, including SubStance, Art Journal, Journal of Postmodern Culture, Critical Inquiry, New Literary History, Modern Fiction Studies, Cultural Critique, Issues in Integrative Studies, History of the Human Sciences, and Mosaic. Member of editorial board, Modern Fiction Studies, Contemporary Literature, Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology, and Para.doxa; member of advisory board, PMLA, 1996-99; member of board of consultants, Science-Fiction Studies.
N. Katherine Hayles began her professional life as a research chemist working for the Xerox Corporation. She eventually became a full professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an award-winning author. Hayles's best-known book is How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. This book looks at the question, "What does it mean to be human?" from the perspective of cybernetics and other new technologies as well as science fiction. The latter is more thoroughly probed than the former, since Hayles emphasizes the importance of narrative in creating a posthuman identity.
Hayles does not subscribe to the dystopic view of post-humanity, where humans will be superseded by intelligent machines. These views of the future are based on an unnecessary division between mind and body, Hayles claims. Instead, she sees posthumanity as a state where machines have taken on some human traits and have become inseparably entwined in most human's identities, but where the embodied human as subject is still supreme.
Many critics praised How We Became Posthuman. Anthony C. Alessandrini, writing for Extrapolation, commented: "It is rare to find a book belonging to an emerging field that is as confident in its arguments (and as elegantly written) as this one." Similarly, Jon Beard said in a review for Knowledge Technology & Policy, "This text is challenging in its construction and presentation, stimulating in its exploration of the subject, and exhilarating, both as a hopeful depiction of a human-extending symbiosis and as an apocalyptic end to humankind as we know it."
In My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, Hayles provides readers with an interesting look into the evolution of the computer as used in the literary and "book" world, addressing different view points from various parts of the world. She points out that in the pre-computer days, women who did computational work, such as calculating astronomical tables, were called computers, and the term did not apply to machines until around 1940. From this basic comparison, she builds up to a more technical view of the development of computers, including comparisons of code and text to language, thought, science, and literature. Nancy Roth, in a review for Afterimage, remarked, "Hayles seems to be not only using but refreshing our language in the interests of generating future cultural models that may lie far beyond the scope of the book." Writing for the Women's Review of Books, Mara Mills stated: "Hayles has been an important voice for restoring human bodies and concerns to the history of information technology."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Afterimage, March-April, 2006, Nancy Roth, review of My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, p. 47.
American Book Review, July 1, 2006, "Peace at the Posthuman Games," p. 22.
American Literature, September 1, 1992, Nancy Craig Simmons, review of Chaos Bound: Orderly Disorder in Contemporary Literature and Science, pp. 622; September, 1993, Michael Berube, review of Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science, pp. 596.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, September, 1999, H.A. Booth, review of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics, p. 125; January 1, 2005, L.W. Moore, review of Nanoculture: Implications of the New Technoscience, p. 873.
Christian Century, July 28, 1999, Philip R. Meadows, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 751.
Chronicle of Higher Education, November 7, 1990, Peter Monaghan, "‘Two Cultures’ of Science and Literature No Longer Considered Disparate Fields," pp. A5-A6.
Contemporary Sociology, July 1, 1991, Mark A. Schneider, review of Chaos Bound, p. 608.
Critical Studies in Mass Communication, December, 1993, Brenda Dervin, review of Chaos Bound, pp. 439-440.
Extrapolation, fall, 2001, Anthony C. Alessandrini, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 290.
Isis, June 1, 1988, G.S. Rousseau, review of The Cosmic Web: Scientific Field Models and Literary Strategies in the Twentieth Century, p. 322; March 1, 1992, Walter Creed, review of Chaos Bound, p. 107; December 1, 2006, Laura Otis, review of My Mother Was a Computer, p. 795.
Journal of American Studies, August 1, 2003, Aliki Varvogli, review of Writing Machines, p. 333.
Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January 1, 1986, review of The Cosmic Web, p. 156.
Knowledge Technology & Policy, spring, 2000, Jon Beard, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 114.
Library Journal, February 1, 1985, Guy Burneko, review of The Cosmic Web, p. 98.
Library Quarterly, April, 2001, Terrence A. Brooks, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 292.
Los Angeles Times, February 24, 1997, Paul Karon, "The HTML Is on the Wall," p. 4.
Modern Fiction Studies, winter, 1999, Stephanie S. Turner, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 1096; summer, 2004, Rita Raley, review of Writing Machines.
Modern Language Review, January, 2001, Jeremy Tambling, review of How We Became Posthuman, pp. 143-144.
New Scientist, June 5, 1999, Margaret Wertheim, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 49.
Nineteenth-Century Literature, March 1, 1992, review of Chaos and Order, p. 582.
Omni, November, 1993, Anna Copeland and Janet Stites, "Bordercrossings," pp. 38-51.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2004, review of Nanoculture, p. 227.
Science Fiction Studies, November, 1991, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., review of Chaos Bound, p. 426; July, 1999, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 312; July 1, 2003, "The Machine of a Soul," p. 311.
Technology and Culture, April, 2000, Andrew Pickering, review of How We Became Posthuman, pp. 392-395.
Times Literary Supplement, July 9, 1999, Phillip Gerrans, review of How We Became Posthuman, p. 32; January 20, 2006, Eric J. Iannelli, review of My Mother Was a Computer, p. 28.
Women's Review of Books, July-August, 2006, Mara Mills, review of My Mother Was a Computer, p. 26.