Publication Date

April 2017

Advisor(s)

Matthew Garrett

Major

English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

When a text tries to become a body, what do we encounter in-between its body and ours? In the words of Mikhail Bakhtin, "Time as it were thickens, takes on flesh, becomes artistically visible." Bakhtin was talking about books, but Patchwork Girl—a work of digital hypertext literature—inflects his words through a new medium. This essay is a formally-attuned reading of Patchwork Girl that traces its attempt to think through the opening of critical and political possibility at literature’s interface with informatics and cyborg theories of the posthuman. I argue that Patchwork Girl marks itself as a limit-text of cyborg-writing. It produces a cyborg myth that tries to transform our conceptions of "human" and "text," but ends up anxiously transforming itself. Haunted by a racial anxiety that permeates so much of contemporary American literature, Patchwork Girl marks racism in places we might not immediately think to look.

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