Sympathetic Imagination: Posthumanist Thought in Electronic Literature and Games
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Martha Nussbaum insists on the power of “sympathetic imagining” for considering the lives of nonhuman animals. Literature, for Nussbaum, is a powerful site for imaging the lives of animals. This study extends Nussbaum’s “sympathetic imagining” into the realm of digital art–– namely, electronic literature and digital games. I explore how digital art intersects with posthumanism, via three distinct areas: biopolitics, animal studies, and eco-criticism. Posthumanism rejects anthropocentrism in favour of considering our own affinities and similarities with all living creatures in the world. It is a call to pay strict attention to our shared finitude and vulnerability with nonhumans, and change our ways of thinking and being accordingly to ensure the continued survival of our world and its inhabitants. I argue that digital media affords us the ability to think past our anthropocentrism, opening up a space for us to consider our relationship to nonhuman animals, other humans, and the ecological world. I provide critical readings of electronic literature and digital games, which I believe illustrate the sympathetic imagining power of digital media. I see digital media as providing a site of speculation, a means to better understand and consider the role and position of the human imbricated and implicated within a networked ecology consisting of a multitude of creatures of life, all subjects of finitude and vulnerability.