Cody Mejeur deposited Neuroqueer: Contextualizing Narrative through Embodied Experience in the group Game Studies on Humanities Commons 6 months ago
As Sue Kim noted at the Narrative 2018 conference, the field of narrative theory is long overdue for a reckoning with its lack of diversity and its frequent silence on issues of race, gender, and sexuality in favor of supposedly neutral, universal qualities of narrative (Hogan 2010). To be sure, the recent works by scholars such as Warhol, Lanser, Donahue, Ho, and Morgan that structure the questions of this panel have provided rich sites for that reckoning to begin. However the various narratologies present in such work, such as queer, feminist, and cognitive narrative theories, rarely speak to one another, and when they do they do so on the level of cultural narratives or affective stances, such as Kim’s work with narrative and anger (2013). This paper contributes to efforts to bridge and contextualize narrative theories by proposing that focusing on narrative as an embodied experience can reveal new ways of accounting for difference in narrative––ways to bring different narratives theories together, and to understand how we all use and understand narrative differently based on our embodied positions within systems of power.
As an example, this paper uses neuroqueer (as recently theorized by Jigna Desai) as a narrative of a particular embodiment—being neurodivergent and queer—in order to examine how cognitive, queer, and rhetorical narrative theories can (and must) meet in understanding how we make meaning in and tell stories about the world differently based on our lived experiences. Neuroqueer’s implications for contextualizing narrative become particularly apparent in SOMA, a video game set in a post-apocalyptic world where human consciousness is transferred to android bodies. In SOMA, the player’s perspective on the world shifts based on the bodies they experience it through, and in multiple instances the game’s narrative upends their normative expectations of embodiment and interaction in ways that are distinctly neuroqueer.