This book is a shadow cultural history of transplantation as mediated through medical writing, science fiction, life writing and visual arts in a Gothic mode, from the nineteenth century to the present. Works in these genres explore the experience of donors or suppliers, recipients and practitioners, and simultaneously express transfer-related suffering and are complicit in its erasure. Examining texts from Europe, North America and India, the book resists exoticising predatorial tissue economies and considers fantasies of harvest as both product and symbol of ‘slow violence’ (Rob Nixon), precarity and structural ruination under neoliberal capitalism. Gothic tropes, intertextualities and narrative conventions are used in life writing to express the affective and conceptual challenges of post-transplant being, and used in medical writing to manage the ambiguities of hybrid bodies, as a ‘clinical necropoetics’. In their efforts to articulate bioengineered hybridity, these works are not only anxious but speculative. Works discussed include nineteenth-century Gothic, early twentieth-century fiction and film, 1970s American hospital organ theft horror in literature and film, turn-of-the-millennium fiction and film of organ sale, postmillennial science fiction dystopias, life writing and scientific writing from the nineteenth century to the present. Throughout, Gothic representations engage contemporary debates around the management of chronic illness, the changing economics of healthcare and the biopolitics of organ procurement and transplantation – in sum, the strange times and weird spaces of tissue mobilities. The book will be of interest to academics and students researching Gothic studies, science fiction, critical medical humanities and cultural studies of transplantation.
Uncanny assemblage and embodied scripts in tissue recipient horror
, however, is the sense that maintaining a boundary between recipient and received tissue might be injurious to the recipient’s recovery, and that all human tissue, including the recipient’s own pre-transplant’s body , may be uncanny. I open by discussing the emotional and imaginative work that may accompany transfer for a recipient. I then examine fictions of blood, hand, and face transfer from the nineteenth and early and mid-twentieth century from a range of British and European contexts. I will contextualise the works within their particular moment, but this chapter
In 1543, the Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius wrote De Humani Corporis Fabrica ( On the Fabric of the Human Body ), a meticulous record of what he had learned through human dissection, accompanied by woodcuts of bodies solely composed of nerve or bone or muscle. The work had a profound influence on medicine for centuries. This book, and works by others in the intervening centuries, also laid a crucial imaginative foundation that made transplantation eventually possible: specifically, shaping perceptions of the body’s elements as discrete and interlayered
Bodies dis(re)membered: Gothic and the transplant imaginary
‘My blood has adopted a child / who shuffles through my chest / carrying a doll’. 1 J.D. Reed’s poem describes a particular recipient’s experience of living with a transplanted heart. Simultaneously compassionate and sinister, this poem captures some of the ambivalence that may gather around the received tissue – the possibility of a tender coexistence, yet also haunting and strangeness. The image also confronts us with the human reality of the organ’s origin – not a mechanical replacement but organic tissue with a history , its transfer mediated by a network
Transnational harvest horror and racial vulnerability at the turn of the millennium
inequalities characterise donor pools and access to transplant. These inequalities are part of the long legacy of colonial, settler, and chattel slavery, tragedies far from finished. Capitalism has always been a world system, its local manifestations resting on the labour and suffering of Black and Indigenous People of Colour elsewhere in nations and across the globe and these exploitations were interconnected. 3 This chapter considers texts set in India, the UK, and North America, each of which engages with inequalities around transfer access and vulnerability to
‘Machines of social death’ and state-sanctioned harvest in dystopian fiction
; similarly, hierarchies of life value are also in play today, even if not in dystopian state-sanctioned harvest schemes (though in this, too, there are terrible precedents). 4
I analyse three works from the early days of transplantation prior to the cyclosporine era, during the establishing of transplantation and the emergence of neurological criteria for death: Cordwainer Smith’s novella ‘A planet called Shayol’ (1961), Larry Niven’s A Gift from Earth (1968), and Dennis Etchison’s ‘Calling all monsters’ (1973, rev. 1982), each of which offers a vision of an
17.1 This chapter explores legal questions surrounding organ and tissue transplantation. It focuses solely on transplantation. Closely related questions relating to organ retention for the purposes of education and research are dealt with in Chapter 18 . 1 The Human Tissue Act 2004 regulates transplantation in England and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own statute, the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 and as we shall see Wales has made a substantial change to the law relating to cadaver transplantation in the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013
Medical and ethics writing of death and transplantation
more recent medical thought in differentiating neurological functions and seeing consciousness wholly as a function of the body rather than the function of a separate spirit. Yet the language of this materialist vision is spectral: the subject is haunted by the material body, the ‘thin and filmy ghost’ of nerves themselves, ‘matter’s final Doppelgänger ’.
A kind of materialist haunting can also be discerned within the medico-legal redefinitions of death that have accompanied the progress of the transplantation project. While haunting usually connotes disembodied
Corporate medical horror in late twentieth-century American transfer fiction
, Gaylin lamenting the ‘debit-credit ledger of limbs and lives’. 2
This chapter explores such fantasies of commodification-inflected institutionalised living death as they emerged in 1970s American fiction and the ways these tropes have persisted and morphed in the decades since. Such fictions flourished with the emergence of transplantation as a feasible large-scale project due to immunosuppressant pharmacology, medical advances in life support, and the new legal categories of death discussed in my previous chapter. Rather than a threat from a single ambitious
The Phoenix Park, Dublin (1832–49), an urban heterotopia?
This chapter constructs a contextualizing framework for the improvement that was made to the park, examining its social, historical and cultural significance against the backdrop of important political change. The Phoenix Park lies to the north-west of the centre of Dublin, standing, in the nineteenth century, between the city and the countryside beyond. By the mid-century the Phoenix Park had been transformed into an attractive landscaped space with public areas and private, though now visible, official residences. This transformation included a clear definition of the perimeter of the park, which was punctuated with new entrance gates and lodges. The works in the Phoenix Park can be set in the context of the turbulent English-Irish relations during the opening years of the nineteenth century. The chapter focuses on the expression of colonial authority exercised through a metropolitan system of government and how this, in turn, found expression in the urban landscape.