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Human Pigs and Piggish Humans: Blurring the Boundaries in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The relationship between humans and pigs is fraught with ambiguity. While the pig is the only domesticated species bred solely to be eaten, pigs traditionally live in close proximity to humans and are reared on household waste. This ambivalence is mirrored in their cultural significance: sometimes pigs symbolise luck or happiness, but they are also often regarded as the embodiment of everything unclean.


For the purposes of this paper I am primarily concerned with Pigoons, the genetically modified pigs which figure prominently in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy. Originally engineered to be vehicles for human organs, these human–animal hybrids exhibit a sense of self that corresponds neither to traditional ideas of the human, nor to human conceptions of animality. In the post-apocalyptic world of the novels, notions of human exceptionalism are questioned and satirised through this blurring of the boundaries between human and nonhuman animals.


This paper investigates the way in which the uncanny physical resemblance between humans and pigs is used in the representation of hybridity in Atwood’s trilogy, and also makes reference to some of the Pigoons’ literary antecedents, as well as to figurations of pigs in contemporary visual art.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Hybridity; Animals in Literature; Pigs; Margaret Atwood
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
English; Comparative Literature; History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33655OAI: diva2:746532
Gothic and Uncanny Explorations. Karlstad, 10-12 September 2014
Available from: 2014-09-12 Created: 2014-09-12 Last updated: 2015-07-08Bibliographically approved

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Grimbeek, Marinette
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