Keep the following questions in mind as you read Stacy Alaimo’s “States of Suspension: Trans-corporeality at Sea,” and King Lear scenes 6-8. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.
Alaimo, “States of Suspension: Transcorporeality at Sea”
What does Alaimo mean by the following terms: suspension, transcorporeality, new materialism, posthumanism, and environmental justice?
Why does she suggest critics and environmentalists should trace the “substantial interchanges [that] render the human permeable” (477)?
What characteristics of the ocean make it particularly difficult to grasp?
What are some connections between humans and the sea? OR, how are terrestrial humans and marine creatures linked?
How do our environmental commitments shift if we accept that “transcorporeal subjects are always themselves part of global networks of responsibility,” (477)?
What does Alaimo mean by “buoyancy” (478)?
What does she mean when she says, “Most new materialists, would, I think, be skeptical of origin stories. As heretical descendants of postmodernism and poststructuralism, they maintain a critical stance toward foundations and essentialisms” (478)?
What happens when we take the statement “‘My mother is a fish,’ as a literal description of human ancestry” (478)?
Why is Lear (and/or people in general) “disturbed by the idea that their own bodies bear traces of their evolutionary origins in other creatures” (479)?
“Darwin, in a letter, cheerfully proclaimed, ‘Our ancestor was an animal which breathed water, had a swim bladder, a great swimming tail, an imperfect skull, and undoubtedly was a hermaphrodite! Here is a pleasant genealogy of mankind’ (qtd. Zimmer)” (479).
Does “physical relatedness provoke a rich kinship” (480)?
What allows humans “to ignore the current crisis of ocean conservation” (480)?
Is recognition of kinship enough to motivate a ethics of care or an environmental activism that locates humans as part of a cluster and not at the center?
What, according to Alaimo, does Rachel Carson’s personification of the sea accomplish? Does the personification of the sea, air, wind, rain, etc. in King Lear accomplish similar goals? Why or why not?
What does Alaimo value in the book Your Inner Fish? What does she critique