1st Edition

Posthuman Subjectivity in the Novels of J.G. Ballard

By Carolyn Lau Copyright 2024

    This book proposes that Ballard’s novels extrapolate the formation of a posthuman subjectivity that is centred around an affirmative understanding of what a human body can do. This new subjectivity transforms constraints and prescribed desires into creative openings in a hyper-mediated control society that conditions docile bodies through technology and consumerism. Set in surrealist predicaments in postwar affluent Western societies, Ballard’s novels remind us of the fragile veneer of order in the familiar every day. In these moments of crisis, complacent characters are compelled to undergo a process of defamiliarisation and transformation of their understanding of the self and the body. The ability to form new relationships with the unfamiliar is imperative to survival in a hostile environment. Ballard delineates both the possibilities and obstacles of forming these relationships. In particular, the author attributes the failure to do so to the irreconcilable contradictions of late capitalism.


    List of abbreviations


    Chapter 1. A Valuable Education

    Chapter 2. Elementary Geometry

    Chapter 3. Autopia

    Chapter 4. The Denial of Death

    Chapter 5. Neighbourhood Fascism

    Chapter 6. A Collective Enterprise




    Carolyn Lau is Lecturer of English Literature at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She teaches and researches in the areas of global speculative fiction, contemporary literature, graphic narratives, and future storytelling.

    "Posthuman Subjectivity in the Novels of J.G. Ballard is a welcome and long overdue addition to the body of criticism on J.G. Ballard. This book finally foregrounds Ballard as a writer concerned with posthumanism and transvaluation. The book intersects posthuman theory, surrealism and transvaluation theories to offer nuanced and original perspectives on the way Ballard’s fiction disrupts a normative control and desensitisation achieved through technology, while pointing the ways in which technology can promote inclusive social relation. A must read for any academic and student working on Ballard."

    - Dr Elsa Bouet, Lecturer, Edinburgh Napier University, UK.