Sexing the Alien: A Posthuman Hermeneutics of the Embodied Self in Lisa Tuttle’s “Wives"

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Çimen R.

SÖYLEM, vol.7, no.3, pp.742-756, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 7 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.29110/soylemdergi.1169340
  • Journal Name: SÖYLEM
  • Journal Indexes: MLA - Modern Language Association Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.742-756
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Dominant discourses seek to take hold of every epistemic stratum through ubiquitous attempts to regulate quotidian experiences and routines. Ranging from language to culture, from gender to political organizations, disciplinary practices constitute a complex web of relations in hierarchical structures and produce specific identities and situations for subjects to inhabit. As critical scholarship in body studies has shown, body is among the central focuses of dominant discourses in that a regulated experience of corporeality secures, as a site of ideological inscription, the continuity of governing paradigms. Lisa Tuttle’s “Wives” calls for a reformulation of the ethics of embodiment and explores how anthropomorphic demarcations are imprinted upon the genderless bodies of extra-terrestrial beings. In this feminist narrative featuring the generic qualities of science fiction, the heteronormative register of the anthropocentric thought finds a new space (a different planet) to actualize its political agenda. The story interrogates the functioning of the humanist set of beliefs against the background of the precarious relation of ideology to embodied subjectivity. As resistance is an immanent constituent of power relations, the nonhuman inhabitants of the colonized planet somehow manage to survive upon being captured by men; nevertheless, this happens at the expense of being reduced to what Giorgio Agamben calls “bare life,” a way of living that is stripped of its potentials and qualities. This study offers a posthuman hermeneutics of the ideological embodiment in Lisa Tuttle’s story and seeks to question the precarious continuity between ideology and the body.