Primary Research Areas
20th and 21st century Irish literature and poetry; global/postcolonial literature and theory; disability studies; body politics; critical gender and sexuality studies; human rights and political theory
Secondary Research Areas
Science fiction; pop culture; media studies
Current Dissertation Abstract
“Splanchnological Forms: Desire, Digestion, and Metabolization” examines the political and social power of the stomach as a means of world-making.
This power is exhibited through what I call “splanchnological forms” in contemporary world literature. In this dissertation, I argue that the splanchnological offers a unique position from which to revisit what it means to invoke the “world” as a material, epistemological space meant to underscore the production of meaning and value. In my dissertation, I argue that the splanchnological offers a unique position from which to revisit what it means to invoke the “world” as a material, epistemological space meant to underscore the production of meaning and value.
From this point of entry, I emphasize that world literature remains a powerful vehicle by which global norms of power and access are determined and enforced, thereby reifying colonial power structures and reproducing the violence inherent in these structures. World literature, I maintain, and literary studies more broadly, continue to be troubled by both Eurocentric disciplinary norms and a lack of engagement with the more private, concealed, “gross” valences of corporeal embodiment. The splanchnological forms that writers J.M. Coetzee, Han Kang, Carmen Maria Machado, and Helen Oyeyemi advance provide viscerally affirmative, if narratively complex answers to how the political present must build anti-colonial, anti-racist futures by and through the constitutive traces of the past. Through readings of these texts, I contend that the stomach operates as a thematic and formal organizing principle in contemporary world literature because this organ presents a unique site from which to reexamine the “duress” of colonial violence.
Each of the three chapters in this dissertation examine the stomach’s singular capacity to desire, digest, and metabolize. Ultimately, I argue, the political horizons we must create that confront and challenge violent colonial duress must be thought of as a process of taking in, breaking down, and remaking, a process given language to by the stomach. Political justice at the scale of the world, and a re-making of that world to be more just and accessible, must be considered in terms of the gut. In order to understand those terms, we must turn to the belly-focused literature of a justice-seeking world.