Animal-Human Hybrids: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake
This chapter interrogates Margaret Atwood’s double-vision of biotechnology’s future in Oryx and Crake. Atwood’s dystopian vision of corporate biotech stems from a neoliberal ordering of species similar to the organic image of Darwin’s tree of life. Biotech companies employ this arboreal model of upward, outward expansion, and pure individuation to justify patenting new species and to help manage consumers’ bodies. Atwood, however, uses the figure of hybrid-species to radically disrupt the dystopia of what I call “corporate domesticity.” For Atwood, evolution can no longer be read as a process of species divergence, but, instead, must account for prosthetic webs of lateral-gene-transfer and interspecies kinship. Echoing the microbiological work of Lynn Margulis, Atwood posits a symbiogenetic model of evolution that resists the commodification of species. In so doing, however, Atwood posits a post-apocalyptic event that complicates the novel’s genre and uncomfortably blends discourses of evolution, revolution, and genocide.
- Archibald, John. 2014. One Plus One Equals One: Symbiosis and the Evolution of Complex Life. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
- Atwood, Margart. 2003. Interview with Margaret Atwood. https://www.readersread.com/features/interview-with-margaret-atwood-50120031. Accessed 15 Aug 2011.
- ———. 2004. Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
- ———. 2012. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. New York, NY: Anchor. Kindle.Google Scholar
- Becker, Gary S. 1993. A Treatise on the Family: Enlarged Edition. Enlarged edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Canavan, Gerry. 2012. Hope, But Not for Us: Ecological Science Fiction and the End of the World in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory 23 (2): 138–159.Google Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2017. STD Facts – Human Papillomavirus (HPV). October 4. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Accessed 3 Dec 2017.
- Cooper, Melinda. 2017. Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
- Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
- Dunning, Stephen. 2005. Margaret Atwood’s ‘Oryx and Crake’: The Terror of the Therapeutic. Canadian Literature 186: 86–101.Google Scholar
- Gould, Stephen Jay. 1985. Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Reprint edition. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Haeckel, Ernst. 1887. Pedigree of Twelve Species of Man. The History of Creation Vol. 2. Trans. Ray Lankester. New York: D. Appleton and Company.Google Scholar
- Kass, Leon. 1997. The Wisdom of Repugnance. New Republic 216 (22): 17–26.Google Scholar
- Mantegazza, Paolo. (1887) 1904. Physiognomy and expression. Vol. 4. London: The Contemporary Science Series. W. Scott Publishing Co., LTD.Google Scholar
- Margulis, Lynn, and Dorion Sagan. 2002. Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of the Species. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- McClintock, Anne. 1995. Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Context. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Moylan, Thomas. 2000. Scraps of the Untainted Sky: Science Fiction, Utopia, Dystopia. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Nagle, Angela. 2017. Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right. Alresford, Haunts: Zero Books. Kindle.Google Scholar
- PETA. 2008. Lab Meat: Tastes Like One Million Dollars. https://www.peta.org/blog/lab-meat-tastes-like-million-bucks/. https://www.peta.org/features/vitro-meat-contest/. Accessed 26 June 2009.
- Preciado, Paul B. 2017. Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY.Google Scholar
- Rhodes, Cecil. 1877. Confession of Faith. https://pages.uoregon.edu/kimball/Rhodes-Confession.htm. Accessed 22 June 2017.
- Swift, Jonathan. 1960. In Gulliver’s Travels and Other Writings, ed. Louis A. Landa. New York: Houghton Mifflin College Division.Google Scholar
- Williams, Evan Calder. 2011. Combined and Uneven Apocalypse: Luciferian Marxism. Winchester: Zero Books. Kindle.Google Scholar
- Young, Robert. 1995. Colonial Desire. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Žižek, Slavoj. 2011. Žižek at Occupy Wall Street, Part 1/3, 9 October, smabiner. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32ShKRjLN3M. Accessed 6 July 2016.