Mediating Vulnerability

Comparative approaches and questions of genre

Edited by Anneleen Masschelein, Florian Mussgnug, and Jennifer Rushworth


ISBN: 9781800081147

Publication: November 25, 2021

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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
Simona Micali

2 Rewriting the myth: consideration of the Minotaur in Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow
Nicole Siri

3 A vulnerable predator: the wolf as a symbol of the natural environment in the works of Seton, London and McCarthy
Kateřina Kovářová

Part 2: Violence/Resistance

4 Retelling the Parsley Massacre: vulnerability and resistance in Danticat’s The Farming of Bones
Eleonora Rapisardi

5 Toni Cade Bambara’s vulnerable men
Tuula Kolehmainen

6 The Secret Agent – Fictionalizing history: Joseph Conrad and Stan Douglas
Sandra Camacho

7 New worlds: violent intersections in graphic novels
Jessica Gross

Part 3: Image/Narrative

8 Ludic space in horror fiction
Onni Mustonen

9 Graphic stories of resistance: a comic memoir of becoming
Pinelopi Tzouva

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
Katie Ginsbach

13 Vulnerability as duality in speculative fiction
Eva Dinis

14 No, poetry is not out of date: notes on poetic writing and digital culture
Jan Baetens
Translated by Marie-Claire Merrigan

Afterword: Covid-19 or the vulnerability of the future
Florian Mussgnug


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

272 Pages

Copyright: © 2021

ISBN: 9781800081147

Publication: November 25, 2021

Series: Comparative Literature and Culture

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