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From Posthumanism to Posthuman Ecocriticim

Serpil Oppermann


This essay explores the impact of the posthuman turn on ecocriticism. It proposes that posthuman ecocriticism is a more engaged, more diffractive mode of reading the co-evolution of organisms and inorganic matter in their hybrid configurations. Simply put, ecocriticism becomes post-human, post-natural, and post-green in critiquing the taxonomy of the human and the nonhuman. In doing so, posthuman ecocriticism expands and enhances material ecocritical visions and includes such material agencies as biophotons, nanoelements, and intelligent machines that are expressively agentic, story-filled, efficacious, and co-emergent with homo sapiens. It critically discerns the cultural implications of bio-nano-technologies and life sciences. How do we read, for example, the blurred boundaries between iCHELLs (carbon-free inorganic chemicals) and cells (organic matter)? How do we interpret synthetic matter that responds to stimuli? What are the cultural implications of these technoscientific agencies that exhibit signs of spontaneous activity? How do we make sense of this new reality in its concrete character, and conceptualize the cultural and ecological layers of “creative becoming” encoded in material agencies? Such questions are pertinent for the apprehension of posthuman ecocriticism that offers immersion in previously uncharted territories as a post-human structure within which to think about human/nonhuman/inhuman natures. The newly emerging strange natures that transfigure human ecologies will be part of my discussion, and there will be references to literary texts that are labeled posthuman novels.


posthuman ecocriticism; ecological posthumanism; new materialisms; nonhuman agency; naturalcultural forces; postnatural environments; inorganic life; material ecocriticism; narrative agency; storied matter

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2016-001-oppe

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo