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Department of English


Posthuman Time Beings


This thesis examines the potential ethics and politics of the cosmopolitan subject in a posthuman world in Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Cosmopolitanism refers to the idea that all human beings live in a global community and are citizens of the world. Although cosmopolitanism initially emerged as a humanist idea with its ethics and politics lying only within the realm of the human, the novel moves beyond this anthropocentric approach due to its setting in the Anthropocene. I assert that Tale showcases a posthuman turn in the literary narrative by depicting environmental agency in the processes of literary production and circulation within the novel. With this posthuman turn, there is also a posthuman shift in the epistemological framework of the novel as it refers to the cosmopolitan subject as a “time being,” including both the human and the nonhuman within it. However, I contend that this temporal mode of cosmopolitanism diminishes the ethics and politics of the cosmopolitan subject due to the ontological challenges to reality that come up with the distortion of literary time. Instead, I suggest that Tale turns toward literary and environmental affect to grapple with the dilemma of posthuman cosmopolitanism and to materialize the cosmopolitan connection, while also maintaining an affective ethics and politics that transcends the human figure.

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