Reading Disability in a Time of Posthuman Work: Speed and Embodiment in Joshua Ferris' The Unnamed and Michael Faber's Under the Skin

Stuart Murray


This article analyzes a contemporary posthuman culture of work through a critical disability optic and, in particular, examines the disability aesthetics employed by Ferris and Faber in their novels. It opens with an outline of how contemporary post-industrial work cultures fixate on notions of speed and efficiency, and then reads the ideas of 'humanity', embodiment and power that result from this, before situating the difference of disability as a critique of such focus on immediacy and productivity. Ferris' and Faber's novels are read in terms of their analysis of disability and work, exploring how each creates complex ideas of embodiment, time and subjectivity from their very different contexts (the corporate world of the Manhattan legal profession in The Unnamed and an isolated alien/posthuman work environment of food production in Under the Skin). While offering a critique of the posthuman as it is figured in neo-liberal conceptions of work, the article concludes by suggesting the productive possibilities of aligning a critical posthumanist anti-humanism with contemporary disability theory in further understanding representations of work and disability.


Disability; Posthuman; Work; Contemporary Fiction

Full Text:



Copyright (c) 2017 Stuart Murray

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

If you encounter problems with the site or have comments to offer, including any access difficulty due to incompatibility with adaptive technology, please contact

ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)