Metalepsis and/as Queer Desire: Queer Narratology and the 'Unnatural'


  • Florian Zitzelsberger Professur für Amerikanistik/Cultural and Media Studies Universität Passau



metalepsis, unnatural narratology, paranoia, queer narratology, affect, reparative reading


After tracing the connection between metalepsis, originally defined as a transgression of narrative levels, and the term ‘unnatural’ in various strands of narratology, this article argues that unnatural narratology, a postclassical approach specifically dedicated to non- or antimimetic narrative phenomena like metalepsis, follows what Eve Sedgwick calls paranoid inquiry. The perspective of queer narratology subsequently weighs in on discussions of ‘naturalness’ and ‘unnaturalness’ in a reparative effort: Metalepsis, as theorized in this paper, is expressive of the queer failure at being ‘natural’ and thus possesses a potential to articulate desires that are usually made invisible, inconceivable, or unintelligible by the normative framework and exclusionary rhetoric of narratology. Case studies of the video game What Remains of Edith Finch“ (2017) and the film musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch“ (2001) complement my theoretical deliberations and show that metalepsis can be more than ‘unnatural’ by affirming desires grounded in positive affects related to togetherness, belonging, and unity.

Author Biography

Florian Zitzelsberger, Professur für Amerikanistik/Cultural and Media Studies Universität Passau

Florian Zitzelsberger studied English and German (teacher training for secondary education) at the University of Passau, Germany, where he currently works as a research fellow in American Studies and teaches literary and media studies. His research is prompted by an interest in American popular and queer culture and focuses on self-reflexivity and metareference across media, digital and social media, ecocriticism, the American film musical, and queer theory. He has published several articles on contemporary film, which have, among others, appeared in Humanities “and the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies“. Other publications include essays on digital drag culture, environmentalist metafiction, and queer narratology.




How to Cite

Zitzelsberger, Florian. “Metalepsis and As Queer Desire: Queer Narratology and the ’Unnatural’”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 21, no. 1, Oct. 2020, pp. 69-88, doi:10.5283/copas.329.