With Animal: Literary Imaginations of Posthuman Reproductive Bodies

My girl was beautiful, all soft fur and bold brown eyes. Her tail swished when she nuzzled the bottle. People tried to tell me my baby was a squirrel, but people also told me that our love was unnatural.” (With Animal, 93)

When she learned that the baby was human, she felt disappointed. It rattled inside her, fearless and furless, alphabet of bones and thumbs. An animal pregnancy was all soft tongues, lapping; pink silk and decoration. Multiples, so they took care of themselves. They nested inside each other, fully formed at birth. (25)

What a beautiful girl you have. So pink. Mary Todd smiles, showing animal teeth. (147)

In Carol Guess and Kelly Magee’s collection of short stories (With Animal, 2015), human parents of various sexes are pregnant with and give birth to animal babies; they hatch them, raise them, love them, fear them, lick them. The queer human-animal imaginations of reproduction in this literary work urge us to reshape not only traditional representations of the biomedicalized body, but also to picture posthuman imaginations that expose the body as the fabric As has been shown in many theories of embodiment, “the procreative body is a culturally and politically inscribed body. It’s anatomy, physiology, and morphology are shaped by histories and practices of restraint and regulation…” (Ettorre, 554). To expose these restraints and loosen these regulations, it is worth considering the effects of a posthuman imaginary of reproduction. Posthuman theories and ??? have crucially contributed to question the human body’s construction. Animality and disability are new concerns with respect to the reproductive body, which have been explored in critical posthuman theories. The task of this paper is to reshape traditional representations of the biomedicalized body by rethinking reproductive bodily experience through a posthuman lense. The biomedicalized discourse and practice of controlling the reproductive body in the name of health, but for the sake of normativity, can productively be … Critical disability theories and bioethics urge us to scrutinize the “existential disabling” (Shildrick) of reproductive subjects in the sphere of … this paper will be guided by the fractured, furry, nebulous,

Drawing on two different artworks, I suggest that these creative interventions offer alternative “speculative reproductions.” Like contemporary biobanking regimes, these artworks speculate on what new kinds of bodies the reinvestment of reproductive matter (in this case, amniotic fluid and menstrual blood) might engender. Unlike the neoliberal regimes, however, these artworks confirm rather than repudiate a feminist ethics of corporeal generosity, and in fact, extend this ethics even further, through an imaginary of what I call posthuman gardening. Here, the literal resowing and reseeding of one’s reproductive matter establishes an extended, more-than-human birthing ecology that includes not only human bodies, but ecological bodies of various kinds. In this productive troubling of our commonplace Western and humanist understandings of the spacetimes of birth, we are invited to reimagine our reproductive cycles in more expansive posthumanist terms. (Neimanis 110) A suggestion of posthuman gardening offers the opportunity to examine these two spheres of concern—human reproductive biotechnology and environmental ecology—within a common frame of reference. (120)