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Humanities 2017, 6(2), 23; doi:10.3390/h6020023

Literary Autozoographies: Contextualizing Species Life in German Animal Autobiography

Graduate School of the Humanities, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Würzburg 97080, Germany
Academic Editor: Joela Jacobs
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 13 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Abstract

What does it mean to take animal autobiography seriously and how can we account for the representation of life-narrating animals? The article investigates animal autobiographies as ‘literary autozoographies’, drawing attention to both the generic contexts and the epistemological premises of these texts. Adopting a double-bind approach stemming from autobiographical research as well as cultural animal studies, the article focuses on early nineteenth-century equine autozoographies from the German-speaking tradition. These texts are discussed exemplarily in relation to the parameters of fictional autobiographies, before they are contextualized with historical discourses regarding horses in natural history and so-called ‘horse-science’. Due to the fact that the poetics and aesthetics of the genre are modeled on the templates of factual autobiographies, the article argues that literary autozoographies can be read as fictional autobiographies as well as meta-auto/biographical discourse undermining autobiographical conventions. Furthermore, it shows that literary autozoography and zoology share a common historical and ideological epistemology accounting for the representation of animals in both fields. Literary autozoographies thus participate in the negotiation and production of species-specific knowledge. Reading Life of the Mecklenburg Mare Amante (1804), Life of a Job Horse (1807) and Life of a Worn-Out Hack (1819) alongside equine-centric discourses around 1800, the article demonstrates in what ways these texts can be regarded as part of a regime of knowledge attributing emotions and cognitive capacities to horses, while simultaneously arguing for humane treatment on the basis of interspecies homologies. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal autobiography; fictional autobiography; meta-autobiography; life writing; contextualist narratology; cultural and literary animal studies; poetics of knowledge; zoology; natural history; equine autozoography; horse-science animal autobiography; fictional autobiography; meta-autobiography; life writing; contextualist narratology; cultural and literary animal studies; poetics of knowledge; zoology; natural history; equine autozoography; horse-science
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Middelhoff, F. Literary Autozoographies: Contextualizing Species Life in German Animal Autobiography. Humanities 2017, 6, 23.

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