William Taylor


Research title: Deviant Ruins: Tracking the Decay of (Trans)humanist Futurity in Queer Bio- and Eco-Horror

Research Summary

Deviant Ruins: Tracking the Decay of Transhumanist Futurity in Contemporay Bio- and Eco-horror

This research evaluates a contemporary strain of science-fiction characterized by formal experimentation and bioenvironmental horror: horror derived from an experience of the body and/or nonhuman nature as intractable and alien. I argue that this literature operates as a response to ecological breakdown and the failure of capitalist infrastructure, where infrastructure is understood both as a prosthetic extension of the body and an organization of space and time in service of sociopolitical ends. If infrastructure is defined by its ‘enabling function’ (Wenzel 2022), what happens when the infrastructure that enables our dominant social reality fails? Experimental and speculative eco-horror prefigures this space of radical uncertainty, breaking beyond the confines of realist narratives that are lodged within the infrastructure of heteropatriarchal and anthropocentric capitalism.

I propose that we can understand this literature in terms of the close relationship between Georges Bataille’s concept of ‘base matter’ – matter conceived as ‘external and foreign to ideal human aspirations’ – and interpretations of the death drive as the tendency towards destabilization and disorder. The narratives in question exhibit the way in which the (infra)structural inside of ‘capitalist realism’ (Fisher 2009) is ruptured by, and exposed to, the inhuman outsideness of base nature. They also serve to demonstrate that experiences of material chaos and infrastructural rupture can have conflicting results: either liberating the death drive (the impulse to exit stability and order) or intensifying the desire to minimize disruption and maintain existing order. I argue that this latter outcome has counter-productive effects by forestalling or repressing, but ultimately intensifying, the destructive material consequences of the order in question.

Core Research Areas

  • bioenvironmental horror 
  • infrastructure theory and energy humanities
  • Black and queer antihumanism
  • ecocriticism and anti-anthropocentrism 
  • experimental semiotics 
  • philosophical materialism and libidinal theory 


Taylor, William. 2023. "'A benevolent technology': Desiring-production and the Petromodern Death Drive in J. G. Ballard's Crash'English: Journal of the English Association, 72.278: 131-147

Taylor, William. 2024. 'Infrastructural Closure, Rupture, and Insurgency in Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan'Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction [advance article]

Taylor, William. [forthcoming]. 'Deviant Ruins: Xenophilic Masochism, Alien Grammar, and Decaying Futurity in David Roden's Snuff Memories', in The Weird: A Companion, ed. by Kristopher Woofter and Carl Sederholm (Peter Lang)


2A Writing Ecologies (2022)

Additional Information

Co-organiser with Jonathan Atkinson (from Film and TV) and host of 'Resistance Today': a research conference with keynote lecture from poet and essayist Cynthia Cruz


Peer-review coordinator and editorial writer for eSharp: Issue 30, Care (2022)