Animated films as mattertext and eloquent bodies: Lee’s Tarboy and Boyden’s an object at rest

The recent philosophical emphasis on how vibrant, agential “matter” matters has a special place in especially material ecocriticism. What Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann call “mattertext” (the coalescent body of matters and texts that are inherently embedded within one another) indicates the embedded narrativity within matter. Material ecocriticism thus signifies a “vast spectrum of creativity” which “extends into all networks of vital materialities” (Oppermann, “Material Ecocriticism” 59). In other words, the “flesh of the world,” to use Nancy Tuana’s words, tells stories to the human observer, who is not independent from the stories s/he “reads.” Indeed, from biological organisms to lithic compositions, mattertext is everywhere. The geological strata of the planet, for instance, which can be thought of as the bodily natures of the world, bear narrative capabilities in both material and textual forms, as the strata transmit the naturalcultural marks of every epoch that the planet has been through, enabling an understanding of the (hi)story of the world. Hence, in the polyphonic naturecultures of the planet, in its corporeal and inscriptional aspects, matter and text are always already enmeshed. Bearing in mind such narrative powers of mattertext, this paper focuses on the analysis of two short animated films as cases in point exemplifying the concept. Being posthuman environments that enmesh the human and the nonhuman, animated films can be considered mattertexts that possess agentic and eloquent bodies. James Lee’s Tarboy (2009), which illustrates the Baradian reading of Schrödinger’s cat experiment, and Seth Boyden’s An Object at Rest (2015), which displays discernible similarities with Jeffrey J. Cohen’s analysis of lithic bodies as narrative sites indicate how the agentic potentials of the nonhuman become visible through ecologically oriented animated films.


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Citation Formats
B. Ağın, “Animated films as mattertext and eloquent bodies: Lee’s Tarboy and Boyden’s an object at rest,” presented at the Uluslararası ve Disiplinlerarası Çevre ve Edebiyat Sempozyumu, 1 - 03 Kasım 2017, Manisa, Turkey, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: