Edible Subjectivities: Meat in Science Fiction
Parry, Jovian Lang
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This dissertation argues for the critical urgency of both challenging the constitution of subjectivity itself and disputing the a priori exclusion of other animals from attaining some kind of ethico-political subject-status. Deploying a Baradian performative posthumanist analysis attentive to patterns of difference, I engage the theoretical tools of ecofeminism, critical animal studies (CAS), and material ecocriticism to interrogate subjectivity by attending closely and critically to twentieth and twenty-first century Euro- American Anglophone science fiction (SF) stories about meat. Meat animal narratives open the subject to alternative modes of knowing that anthropocentric epistemologies foreclose, intervening against the structural exclusions imposed by various material- discursive apparatuses of domination that define, authorize and enact subjectivity as always and only human, over and against the figure of the animal. SF, a genre of alterity that has long been at the vanguard of literary engagements with nonhuman subjectivities, likewise works to subvert hegemonic notions of the subject as always- already human and complicate overdetermined configurations of the subject as an ontologically predetermined entity. Engaging SF narratives about human cattle dystopias, alien encounters, in vitro meat and alimentary xeno-symbiogenesis, I approach subjectivity as an emergent phenomenon born of the intra-action of differentially materialized agential entanglements, andcruciallytheir constitutive exclusions. Rejecting subject-object dualism as an unliveable onto-epistemological paradigm that excludes anything edible from relations of respectful use, I argue for the necessity of enacting subjectivities in terms of concrete practices of restraint and humility, with humans firmly situated as embodied animal beings, enmeshed with and accountable to a much larger community of more than human, more than animal and more than animate actants on a finite planet.