Date of Award
Master of Arts in English Composition
First Reader/Committee Chair
In this article, I argue that the vampires in Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels illustrate clearly the posthuman self in its connection beyond itself to other vampires, humans, and non-humans. Learning to co-exist becomes problematic in Harris’ series, where we encounter a “new” representation of vampire. These vampires have come out of the coffin, and their revelation allows us to explore how they can be viewed in connection to the human world and how their transcendence can be seen as a move toward posthumanism, as its particular blend of body and community help demonstrate what the self expanded could be. As a species that differs from us “typical” humans and yet must co-exist with us and other non-humans, the posthuman provides a theoretical framework for how we can approach this new representation as a disembodied non-unitary subject. Through their transcendence from the world of the living to the life of the undead, these vampires let us see humanity as a distinct moment in evolution that is a continuous process, not a resolution. There are six areas where we see these common characteristics between posthumanism and Harris’ vampires. The first is the vampire being represented as an other. Like the posthuman, Harris’ vampires are juxtaposed against the human population and because vampires are marked as other this creates tension where they must co-exist with humans and yet still be examined from an anthropocentric perspective. Another way the posthuman allows us to interpret this fear of vampires is from the position of the de-centered human. Because humans prior to the “great revelation” in Harris’ fictional world, believed themselves to be what defined humanism versus their non-human others; they must shift in where they are located on the species podium due to vampires and that creates a fear. Another correlation is that of immortality; which is what vampires inherit when they become a member of the undead, but for the posthuman it is encoding and dematerialization that allows us to transcend these mortal bodies. This notion of disembodiment demonstrates the body being a rhetorical strategy to create an effect, such as manipulation. Since the body for the posthuman is seen as materiality and therefore they are not embedded to only exist within it, the vampire likewise is able to exploit the body in order to accomplish its purpose. Next for the posthuman, transcendence is the way they not only become immortal, but also how they move from identifying as individuals to identifying as part of a larger community. For the vampires in the Stackhouse series, their consciousness lies in their information and not in their material bodies, thus they are able to situate themselves within the larger network with other vampires, humans, and non-humans. And lastly the connection through the exchange of blood, which for the vampire is a literal connection, but for the posthuman is instead an ideal network which removes individuality.
Garcia, Rebecca Ann, "COMING OUT OF THE COFFIN AS THE POSTHUMAN: POSTHUMAN RHETORIC AND HARRIS’ SOOKIE STACKHOUSE SERIES" (2016). Electronic Theses, Projects, and Dissertations. 400.