Walking and Technology in the Fiction of Jennifer Egan: Moving toward the Posthuman
Jennifer Egan’s novels present characters suffering from profound environmental, personal and interpersonal alienation. Walking is held up as antidote to a modern, urban and technological malaise. This view of walking has much to do with Romanticism. However, Egan’s texts, through layers of irony, interrogate mobility and communications technology as ways of connecting to the world. This connecting is intensified in her latest book, Black Box, which features a cyborg spy; here human movement is used to enable the theft of data for shadowy government agencies. This essay sketches the changing role of walking in Egan’s fiction, from alleviative Romantic notions to hybrid posthuman ones. Theories of the posthuman help to articulate new and emerging relationships between pedestrian mobility and technology in the digital age.