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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Sirens without Us: The Future after Humanity

  • Author(s): Rushing, Robert A.
  • et al.

This article discusses several contemporary ways of thinking about the future after humanity has disappeared, from Lee Edelman’s No Future to Wu Ming’s discussion of how apocalyptic visions of the end of humanity can foster eco-critical thinking. Such visions, however, typically rely on De Man’s trope of prosopopeia, or personification, in order to project a human vision (generally, the author’s) into a future “without us,” as the title of Weisman’s apocalyptic book has it. This article analyzes Laura Pugno’s novel Sirene (2007), as a way of seeing not only how visions of the end of history are gendered, but also what happens to the future when the author turns to objectification rather than personification. Pugno cannot escape De Man’s “linguistic predicament” (there is no way to write “after death” without projecting a human voice into its inhuman and voiceless space), but comes perhaps as close as possible to imagining a world without Italy, without humanity, without consciousness, without language.

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