Presenting in the EcoTheory Stream at the 2021 ASLE Virtual Conference (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment)

The monster embodies both breakdown and emergence. While it is traditionally read as a symptom of collapse and chaos, fulfilling its etymologically prescribed role as a dark omen, I am interested in the alternative root from which these hybrid, changeable creatures emanate. The monster not only evokes the Latin ‘monere,’ giving warnings, but also ‘monstratre;’ to speak with Donna Haraway, monsters ‘de-monstrate.’

In speculative fiction, this future-oriented thrust of the monstrous is often of an ecological nature. Given famous precursors such as Mary Shelley’s monster, whose proposals of a vegan lifestyle in harmony with his fellow creatures receive a rather hostile reception on the part of this human creator, such a re-evaluation has a long tradition, which writers including Larissa Lai or Rita Indiana re-work in the 21st century vein of a bio-punk posthumanism.

My paper proposes that hybrid biopunk bodies offer figurations not only of survival on a toxic and wounded planet, but of human life lived according to the principles of enmeshment and porosity rather than dominance and exploitation. On a narrative level, this points to a pathway beyond the dead-end of the hero-villain patterns which shape conventional science fiction. Yet on a political level, this also raises the possibility of a different kind of future-oriented imagination that is not based on the ‘no-place’ isles of conventional utopia but on the rhizomatic currents running through a ‘dia-topia,’ a literary and ecological space defined by transversal and border crossings.

You can access the video version of my paper here:

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