Uneasy Animals: Encountering Nonhuman Difference in American Literature, 1896-present Open Access

Colvin, Christina Marie (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/s4655h44d?locale=en


Uneasy Animals demonstrates how animals in the work of major American authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries shape representations of environmental crisis, cultural upheaval, and social change. Until recently, the critical tendency has been to read animals in literature as simple figures for human behavior, values, or characters. This project, however, argues that animals' morphological, behavioral, and phenomenological difference unsettles literary texts, a reading that unseats the human as the chief focus of literary critical thought. The dissertation's interdisciplinary approach--bringing insights from fields such as biology, ethology, psychology, philosophy, and civil law into conversation with literature--demonstrates the importance of attending to nonhuman difference as it appears in a range of textual forms, particularly during the ecological crises of the present day. Uneasy Animals further shows how authors as diverse as Henry James, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Linda Hogan, Adrienne Rich, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, T.C. Boyle, and Richard Powers ask how we might reconfigure what it means to be human not against, but in relation to, animals and animal life.

Table of Contents


Chapter One

Killable Animals and the Ethics of Worldly Touch

Chapter Two

"His Guts Are All Out of Him": Faulkner's Eruptive Animals

Chapter Three

Stuffed Animal Semiotics: Disturbing Taxidermy in James, Hemingway, and Hogan

Chapter Four

Endangerment, Extinction, and the Unknown: Recent Fiction and the Loss of Animals



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