Mastering otherness with a look: on the politics of the gaze and technological possibility in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun

Nicola Simonetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This article examines the transformative effects of adding gaze theory to the critical approaches that have focused on Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (2021). Drawing on the issues of looking dynamics and surveillance in Michel Foucault’s epistemology of the gaze, the argument is that a Foucauldian reading of Ishiguro’s story uncovers the dependence of its power relations on gazing practices. By exploring the humanoid robot Klara’s storyline, I highlight the dual role of the gaze and related visual dynamics in Klara and the Sun as both facilitators of humans’ mastery of nonhumans and sites of nonhuman possibility. My analysis suggests that the novel articulates a complex disciplinary system in which the technological Other is constantly reified by both the human gaze and internalised practices of self-discipline. At the same time, against the reductive reading of Klara as a technological Other at the service of human selves, this article also proposes her figure as one of transgressive boundaries and gaze-engendered opposition, arguing that the novel’s social system is ultimately undermined by the visual acts of overconformity that Klara adopts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date7 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Gaze theory
  • Posthumanism
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Michel Foucault

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