Posthumanist Stylistics

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Abstract

I present a posthumanist approach to literary interpretation using stylistic analysis. It is posthumanist since i) digital cameras/ audio-video resources and editing applications prompt multimodal readings of literary works unlikely from human intuition alone; ii) anthropocentrism in literary texts is defamiliarised. I highlight how stylistic analysis can be used productively for developing multimodal creativity in posthumanist reading by motivating audio-video edits and effects. I model using Anne Bronte’s poem ‘Home’ (1846). When read only with intuition, ‘Home’ communicates young Bronte’s yearning for her family home. In contrast, this article has a non-intuitive digital multimodal realisation of this poem where a young Californian stuck in London because of pandemic (Covid-19) travel restrictions yearns for her home state in the aftermath of wildfires linked to anthropogenic climate change. This posthumanist transformative reading, flagging the negative repercussions of humans for their planetary home, defamiliarises the poem’s anthropocentric normality. Importantly, I show how stylistic analysis of ‘Home’ motivates creative use of audio-visual edits and effects in the posthumanist multimodal reading. The article makes contrast with standard interpretive practice in stylistics (‘humanist stylistics’). It also reflects on the value of posthumanist stylistics for extending students’ creative thinking in an educational context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129
Number of pages162
JournalLanguage and Literature
Volume32
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Anthropocene
  • climate change
  • creative interpretation of literature
  • postdigital multimodal interpretation of poetry
  • humanist stylistics
  • non-anthropocentrism
  • posthumanism
  • posthumanist stylistics
  • posthumanities
  • techno-posthumanism
  • transhumanism

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