Queering Sight: Visualising the Transversal Other in Josh Malerman’s Bird Box


  • Kai Tjoon Lim




The gaze has hitherto occupied a contentious position within theoretical discourse. While feminist and postcolonial approaches have succeeded in productively interrogating the unequal power dynamics produced by the gaze, purely naming and uncovering how these visual oppressions function do little to conceptualise possibilities of moving beyond sight’s vilification in identity formations. Unlike other physical senses such as touch and smell that have already been theorised as bases of ethical intersubjective relationality, sight has yet to be reclaimed as part of an affirmative politics to disrupt the exclusionary processes that undergird identity politics. This article is, therefore, concerned with queer interventions to rethink sight as a possible mode of transgression from restrictive binarisms within identity formation. It argues that sight instead possesses the potential to liberate bodies and constrained subjectivities from the coercive frameworks of visual objectification. By queering sight, the article positions itself as a rejection of dualistic paradigms by subversively envisioning identities as transversal processes of liberation and becoming. To this end, I will engage with Josh Malerman’s Bird Box (2014) where mediated acts of looking represent queer(ed) sources of danger and liberation. In its peculiar and particular denial of direct visual access, the novel’s aesthetics allow for productive possibilities of visualising the transversal Other.




How to Cite

Lim, Kai Tjoon. 2023. “Queering Sight: Visualising the Transversal Other in Josh Malerman’s Bird Box”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts 34 (1). https://doi.org/10.2218/forum.1.9153.



Transgressive Bodies