This article attempts to demonstrate how Charles Burns’ graphic novel Black Hole (1995) construes the prevalence of contagion and pathological transformation(s) as metaphors of social contamination operating within a biopolitics of segregation. Through a study of plague, infection and strange mutations in Burns’ novel, this article offers a critical evaluation of the monstrous body and investigates how Black Hole portrays the social reception of a sexually contagious virus through conditions of sickness and exclusion, which become biopolitical in quality. It examines, through close reading, how Burns’ novel uses metaphors of contagion, abjection and desire, often fusing those in order to foreground the complex intercorporeal state of the segregated subject and in the process dramatises the urgent need to revaluate conventional strategies of isolation and otherisation through a reconsideration of the biopolitical notions around engagement, community and immunity.
- queer theory
- sexually transmitted diseases
Data availability statement
Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study. Not applicable.
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Contributors AN and AV have contributed to the study, preparation and analysis of the paper. AN and AP have contributed equally to the writing, editing, and to the overall production of the manuscript, along with the ideas developed in it. Both the authors have read and approved the final manuscript. AN is the author responsible for the overall content as guarantor. AN accepts full responsibility for the work and the conduct of the study.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.