Literature, Images, and Politics of Life

Guest editors: Dr. Irina Garbatzky and Dr. Julieta Yelin


This monograph aims to map research about the connections between literature and visual arts with posthumanist thinking, and more specifically, with theoretical developments around biopolitics. Over the last years, the number of works addressing the  contributions of “animal issues” (ranging from zoology to biopolitics) to literary and artistic studies has grown, simultaneous to an awareness of the new approaches that artistic thought—in its creative and critical aspects—can provide to other disciplinary areas. Such exchange, which promises a revolutionary conceptual transformation, has been fostered by the problematization of the epistemological hierarchies of anthropocentrism and the original understanding of transdisciplinary work posed by posthumanism. This theoretical development has inevitably brought about a resignification of the notion of life, with evident effects on our notions of living, animal, human, subject, and many other key categories. It is based, to a great extent, on Nietzsche’s conception of bios, that is, the only possible representation of being, a purely ontological manifestation that, as the Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito notes in Bíos. Biopolitica e filosofia, has powerful political consequences. Indeed, political forms do not get superimposed from outside on the inform materiality of life. Rather, life is always already political—not as a historical or temporary aspiration, but as the native modality in which beings become, in which beings live. “Not as character, law, or destination of something that lives previously, but as the power that informs life from the beginning in all its extension, constitution, and intensity. That life as well as the will to power—according to the well-known Nietzschean formulation—doesn’t mean that life desires power not that power captures, directs, or develops a purely biological life. On the contrary, they signify that life does not know modes of being apart from those of its continual strengthening” (Bíos: Biopolitics and Philosophy, trans. Timothy Campbell, Minnesota University Press, 2008: 81).


The definition of bios as a generative power totally challenges the anthropocentric conception according to which politics and art are effects of human activity. The humanist discourse understands culture as a reality unconnected from animal life, as a project of self-generation and self-interpretation. Conversely, the biocentric perspective, closely linked with the philosophical tradition stemming from Nietzsche, understands culture as a phenomenon of life. If life is political because it is but will of power, we could pose that life is artistic in so much as it is but will of creation. Art is not an area detached from a life upon which it acts, or a life that inseminates it; it is rather its own mode of existence. Taking this brief considerations as critical horizon, we convene researchers interested on the philosophical, political, and artistic transformations brought about by the emergence of a biocentric perspective to posthumanities. Tentatively and not exclusively, we propose the following thematical axes:

a) Dialogue between literature and biopolitical thought.

b) Dialogue between visual arts and biopolitical thought.

c) Philosophical, political, artistic, and cultural debates on the notion of life.

d) Resonances of Nietzschean thinking about life on literature, visual arts, and contemporary criticism.

e) Philosophical, literary and political sieges to the notion of subject.

f) Undisciplined bodies: artistic resistance to gender and species orders.

g) Images of animals and animality in contemporary literary and artistic criticism.

FaLang translation system by Faboba


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