Posthuman Bodies in Literature

The chapter’s or article’s main argument revolves around the manifestitation of the posthuman body. To elaborate briefly upon this, the article argues that the techonological posthuman body is anologous to ‘the monstrous or grotesque body’ and through this analogy and the aesthetic associations of the latter bodies raises some interesting points for further analisys regarding whether the effects of the ‘technobody’ are negative perhaps, rather than positive, and certainly relates it to the Other. To follow the qeustion raised here, the article delves into an exploration of the mythic bodies and then techno bodies as explored through literature the past 200 or so years. Finally the article investigates four contemporary archetypes found in literature, that allow for an interesting reflexion upon the role and symbolism of the body.

I would firstly recommend reading this article due to its exploration of bodies through literature which allows for a good overview of the different literary traditions and their focus regarding the body. Furthermore the points raised about the origins of the concept of bodyalteration and the meanings that this can have are very interesting, and can help the reader to think about this in new ways. Especially the latter part of tje article that deals with comtemporary examples of the use of the body in literature can provide a very good basis for further investigation and discussion of the role and symbolism of the boy.

Sheehan, Paul. ‘Posthuman Bodies’. The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature, edited by David Hillman, Ulrika Maude Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp 245 – 260.

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3 Comments on "Posthuman Bodies in Literature"

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Eva Krarup
Eva Krarup

Very interesting, thank you for the summary! I would be curious to know if you agree that the posthuman body in literature is analogous to ‘the monstrous or grotesque body’, to me it sounds like a comparison that might be suitable for the representations during the 19th and 20th century (with Frankenstein as an early example) but maybe not so much for the posthuman body in newer/contemporary literature?

Mads Østergaard Johansen

Hey Daniel, great post! I agree to certain degree with Krarup’s concerns about, making the posthuman analogous to the monstrous as a mode of comparison. However, as far as I recall the concept of the monstrous most of the time is concerned with the trope where a person creates something that runs amok. In light of this definition the fear if posthuman bodies seems to be of the same type. Take for example the representations in “Ex Machina” and “Her”, where the same type of trope appears.

Florian Auerochs
Florian Auerochs

Hey Daniel! Thanks for your post! Maybe the analogy of the grotesque and the posthuman body refers to Bachtins famous definition of the carnevalesque/grotesque body. In “Rabelais and His World” he attributes the grotesque body to the open, the penetrativem, and the porous. In Lesson 6, Leth-Espensen comments Claus Emmeches theory of the posthuman body as one who breaks boundaries and creates a passage through different and divergent bodies (male/female/human/animal/machine/own/other/). I don’t know the article, but Bachtin could the be the theoretical root of its analogon.