Mediating Vulnerability examines vulnerability from a range of connected perspectives. It responds to the vulnerability of species, their extinction but also their transformation. This tension between extreme danger and creativity is played out in literary studies through the pressures the discipline brings to bear on its own categories, particularly those of genre. Extinction and preservation on the one hand, transformation, adaptation and (re)mediation on the other. These two poles inform our comparative and interdisciplinary project. The volume is situated within the particular intercultural and intermedial context of contemporary cultural representation. Vulnerability is explored as a site of potential destruction, human as well as animal, but also as a site of potential openness.
This is the first book to bring vulnerability studies into dialogue with media and genre studies. It is organised in four sections: ‘Human/Animal’; Violence/Resistance’; ‘Image/Narrative’; and ‘Medium/Genre’. Each chapter considers the intersection of vulnerability and genre from a comparative perspective, bringing together a team of international contributors and editors. The book is in dialogue with the reflections of Judith Butler and others on vulnerability, and it questions categories of genre through an interdisciplinary engagement with different representational forms, including digital culture, graphic novels, video games, photography and TV series, in addition to novels and short stories. It offers new readings of high-profile contemporary authors of fiction including Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy, as well as bringing lesser-known figures to the fore.
Anneleen Masschelein is Professor of Literary Theory and Cultural Studies at KU Leuven.
Florian Mussgnug is Professor of Comparative Literature and Italian Studies at UCL.
Jennifer Rushworth is Associate Professor in French and Comparative Literature at UCL.
Introduction: On/Off limits
Anneleen Masschelein, Florian Mussgnug, Jennifer Rushworth
Part 1: Human/Animal
1. What if they could speak? Humanized animals in science fiction
2. Rewriting the myth: consideration of the Minotaur in Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow
3. A vulnerable predator: the wolf as a symbol of the natural environment in the works of Seton, London and McCarthy
Part 2: Violence/Resistance
4. Retelling the Parsley Massacre: vulnerability and resistance in Danticat’s The Farming of Bones
5. Toni Cade Bambara’s vulnerable men
6. The Secret Agent – Fictionalizing history: Joseph Conrad and Stan Douglas
7. New worlds: violent intersections in graphic novels
Part 3: Image/Narrative
8. Ludic space in horror fiction
9. Graphic stories of resistance: a comic memoir of becoming
10. The cryptographic narrative in videogames: the player as detective
Ana Paklons and An-Sofie Tratsaert
11. Narrating pornographic images: photographic description and ekphrasis in De fotograaf by Jef Geeraerts
Karen Van Hove
Part 4: Medium/Genre
12. Through the doors of time: media interactions and cultural memory in El Ministerio del Tiempo
13. Vulnerability as duality in speculative fiction
14. No, poetry is not out of date: notes on poetic writing and digital culture
Translated by Marie-Claire Merrigan
Afterword: Covid-19 or the vulnerability of the future
Open Access PDF
November 25, 2021
Comparative Literature and Culture