Uncanny Bodies, Impossible Knowledge and Somatic Excess in Isaiah 29

Rhiannon Graybill


This essay explores affect and somatic excess in Isaiah 29.9-16. I argue that the text presents the male body as a site of resistance to signification and linguistic representation. In this non-signifying body, affect, sensation, and experience are of foremost importance. This emphasis on sensation destabilises both the representational economy of the text and the gendered associations upon which this economy depends. Rejecting the association of the masculine with rationality, discourse, and representation, Isaiah 29 offers in its place an unstable male body and an uncanny masculinity positioned in the space outside representation. The uncanny male body, rich in affect but resistant to signification, suggests a new way of understanding embodiment and imagining gender in the Prophets. My argument draws upon Brian Massumi’s analysis of affect in Parables for the Virtual, Luce Irigaray’s work on gender and language, and Sigmund Freud’s classic essay on the uncanny.


Isaiah; bodies; masculinity

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Bible and Critical Theory: ISSN 1832-3391