Lethal Narratives and the Breakdown of Human/Nonhuman Spheres: What Viruses Tell and What We Imagine


  • Zümre Gizem Yılmaz Karahan Social Sciences University of Ankara


Throughout history, viruses have become an effective way as storied matter that forces us to redefine what human is with its nonhuman proximity and trans-corporeal bonds. Displaying how human beings are enmeshed in volatile planetary processes, narrative agency of the viruses, which showed itself via such outbreaks as The Plague of Athens, The Antonine Plague, The Plague of Justinian, Cholera Pandemic, The Spanish Flu, and very recently COVID-19, ignite certain speculations for the redefinition of humanity. However, in lieu of comprehending the material stories carried by such viruses that changed civilizations and history to large extents, humans imagine themselves fighting these viruses, as part of their existential meanings, through their intellect which they perceive their divine boon. This brings forth a vicious circle since it requires the segregation of human and nonhuman. Such scenarios as humanity triumphing against a lethal natural force and/or a virus attacking what is uniquely human in every sense just consolidates anthropocentrism, which is the core reason for all these environmental catastrophes and imbalances out of which new viruses emerge. This ecophobic imagination, mainly resulting from the fear of losing precious agency against an unknown and unlimited natural force, can be tracked in most literary works. The main aim of this paper is, thus, to highlight the narrative agency of viruses within the theoretical framework of trans-corporeality, posthumanisms, material ecocriticism, and ecophobia. This paper will further shed light on how we perceive virus in some literary works written on apocalyptic viral end of the world.


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How to Cite

Yılmaz Karahan, Z. G. (2020). Lethal Narratives and the Breakdown of Human/Nonhuman Spheres: What Viruses Tell and What We Imagine. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 8(15), 236–243. Retrieved from http://nalans.com/nalans/article/view/271