Hopeful monsters: a queer hope for evolutionary difference

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores how contemporary literary and visual texts create a scientific imaginary haunted by the work of the discredited evolutionary biologist Richard Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt's theory of the hopeful monster placed that which is different, changing and monstrous at the heart of evolution. The aim of this article is therefore to examine how macromutation (also known as saltational theory) makes manifest an anxiety, but also an exciting potentiality, about the human's interrelational existence with plant, animal, inanimate and technological life. It moves between Goldschmidt's theories of evolution and cultural representations that resonate with his work to suggest that the hopeful monster questions the dehumanisation of and violence towards different others by bringing monstrous difference to the centre of species' survival. The focus here is how Goldschmidt's ideas reverberate in contemporary culture, particularly how these resonances invite a questioning of the supposed threat of difference to imagined individual and national security and unity. Engaging with the Hollywood film series X-Men and Hiromi Goto's collection of short stories Hopeful Monsters, this article explores how these texts make manifest the ontological anxieties of facing (our) monsters, and thus the environmental and socio-political consequences and potentialities of being of, with and next to difference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154–173
Number of pages20
JournalSomatechnics: Journal of Bodies – Technologies – Power
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


  • Richard Goldschmidt
  • Hopeful Monsters
  • postcolonial
  • queer
  • evolution
  • x-men
  • Hiromi Goto


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