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Microbial Gothic in the Anthropocene
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3293-6324
2018 (English)In: The 14th International Gothic Association Conference Hosted by the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies Manchester, July 31st-August 3rd, 2018: Gothic Hybridities : Interdisciplinary, Multimodal and Transhistorical Approaches, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In a recent article, postcolonial critic Dipesh Chakrabarty interrogates Kantian anthropocentrism by noting that human existence – the ecosystem as well as the human species as such – originates from microbial life. Microbes are in fact still the planet’s dominant life form, outnumbering and even outweighing, in the words of Martin J Blaser, “all the mice, whales, humans, birds, insects, worms, and trees combined—indeed all the visible life-forms we are familiar with on Earth” (13). As such, microbes are absolutely essential to the survival of the planet, but also the most vulnerable to human ecological intervention in the form of pollution, global warming, or the introduction of antibiotics into the ecosystem. Yet, viruses, bacteria and microscopic fungi are, to the extent that they are discussed and represented at all, almost invariably perceived as a threat to human existence. Chakraberty thus asks “Could we ever be in a position to value the existence of viruses and bacteria hostile to us, except insofar as they influence—negatively or positively—our lives?” (390).

This paper seeks to answer this crucial question in relation to Gothic and Horror representations of the encounter between humanity and microbial life. The paper first notes that Gothic and Horror typically tell stories where microbes transform humans into raging, undead carnivores. The paper then investigates a series of narratives that make use of this trope but that employ it to enable a different understanding of microbial existence and agency. With particular focus on J M Carey’s The Girl with all the Gifts (2014) and its sequel The Boy on the Bridge (2017), the paper argues that Gothic is in fact capable of critiquing the anthropocentric perspective to value even the existence of microbial life seemingly hostile to humanity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Gothic, Microbes
National Category
Specific Literatures
Research subject
Humanities, English literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-80069OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-80069DiVA, id: diva2:1284079
Conference
The 14th International Gothic Association Conference Hosted by the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies Manchester, July 31st-August 3rd, 2018 : Gothic Hybridities : Interdisciplinary, Multimodal and Transhistorical Approaches
Available from: 2019-01-30 Created: 2019-01-30 Last updated: 2019-06-25Bibliographically approved

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Höglund, Johan

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf