Special Issue "Animal Narratology"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Joela Jacobs

Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: (520) 621-1841
Interests: 19th-21st century German literature and film; animal studies; environmental humanities; Jewish studies; the history of sexuality; and the history of science

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Storytelling is often cited as one of the characteristics that distinguishes humans from animals. Yet a look at world literature reveals many animals as the narrators of our tales. Animals speak not only in fables and fairy tales, but also narrate novels, voice love poems, and deliver philosophical treatises. Across genres and time, both wild and domesticated animals give accounts of their lives and their worlds, which usually contain human beings. Animal narrators negotiate their relationship with humans, while defamiliarizing the human way of perceiving the world. And yet, these texts are written by human authors who chose an animal voice, a specific species, and a literary genre for a particular purpose—one that tends to be as much, if not more about the human as it is about the animal. In fact, analyses have predominantly focused on the human side of these texts until the recent “animal turn” in literary studies. This focus on the animal in literature vows to take the animal seriously, which has been generating new readings and discoveries regarding texts from the canon and beyond. Literary animal studies has the potential to reveal the history of animal narration, such as clusters of animal species, type, or even breed at certain times; to interrogate animal narrators’ appeals to particular audiences, from children’s books to political satire; and to uncover writers’ ways of avoiding censorship and persecution by channeling an animal voice in their works. In addition, concepts from animal agency to zoopoetics have increased the theoretical complexity of the investigation of animals in literature and are connecting animal studies to some of the concerns of fields such as environmental humanities, race and gender studies.

However, studies of animal narration are still scant and scattered, and there seems to be a need to close a perceived gap between classical scholarship on animals in literature (such as, for instance, Theodore Ziolkowski’s insightful 1983 genealogy of “philosopher dogs” in the Western canon) and newer theoretical premises brought forth by literary animal studies that petition for reading the animal as animal. There also appears to be a perhaps problematic tendency toward taxonomy inherent in approaches to both animals and narration that has yet to be addressed. This special issue of Humanities on the theme of “Animal Narratology” therefore aims to paint a fuller picture of animal narrators from various species, at different times, and from a variety of literary traditions. The breadth of this approach is to be supplemented with systematic considerations of the specific texts and contexts, so as to account for larger developments relevant to the literary history, genre, and narratological strategies exemplified by each animal narrator. Humanities thus invites contributions that bring together the close reading of texts containing animal narrators with (a) theoretical deliberations about narratology (such as dialogism, diegetic levels, empathy, focalization, framing, graphic storytelling, metaphoricity, realism, reliability, representation, serialization, simultaneity, structure, suspense, symbolism, etc.) and (b) relevant questions of ethics, religion, race, gender, sexuality, history, philosophy, sociology, science, and the arts. Texts from literature in any language are welcome (with translation), and an even distribution of Western and non-Western literature is desired. Articles will be due January 1, 2017 and should be between 6000 and 8000 words in length. Interested contributors should send a proposal of 250–500 words with a short bio or their CV to the guest editor, Dr. Joela Jacobs, at joelajacobs@email.arizona.edu by July 20, 2016. You will be notified of your preliminary acceptance (subject to peer review of the completed article) within two weeks, and questions are welcome at any time. Humanities is an international, peer-reviewed, quick-refereeing scholarly open access journal with a focus on the core values of the Humanities. There is no article processing fee, and this special edition is slated to appear both online and in book format (e-book and print on demand).

Dr. Joela Jacobs
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • animal narrator
  • animal studies
  • close reading
  • genre
  • human-animal studies
  • literary history
  • literary studies
  • narratology
  • speaking animals
  • species
  • world literature

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Search for Dog in Cervantes
Humanities 2017, 6(3), 49; doi:10.3390/h6030049
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 9 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 14 July 2017
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Abstract
This paper reconsiders the missing galgo from the first line in Don Quixote with a set of interlocking claims: first, that Cervantes initially established the groundwork for including a talking dog in Don Quixote; second, through improvisation Cervantes created a better Don
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This paper reconsiders the missing galgo from the first line in Don Quixote with a set of interlocking claims: first, that Cervantes initially established the groundwork for including a talking dog in Don Quixote; second, through improvisation Cervantes created a better Don Quixote by transplanting the idea for a talking dog to the Coloquio; and third, that Cervantes made oblique references to the concept of dogs having human intelligence within the novel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Eloquent Alogia: Animal Narrators in Ancient Greek Literature
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 37; doi:10.3390/h6020037
Received: 21 January 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 27 May 2017 / Published: 3 June 2017
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Abstract
Classical Greek literature presents a variety of speaking animals. These are not, of course, the actual voices of animals but human projections. In a culture that aligns verbal mastery with social standing, verbal animals present a conundrum that speaks to an anxiety about
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Classical Greek literature presents a variety of speaking animals. These are not, of course, the actual voices of animals but human projections. In a culture that aligns verbal mastery with social standing, verbal animals present a conundrum that speaks to an anxiety about human communication. I argue that the earliest examples of speaking animals, in Homer, Hesiod and Archilochus, show a fundamental connection with Golden Age tales. Later authors, such as Plutarch and Lucian, look back on such cases from a perspective that does not easily accept notions of divine causation that would permit such fanciful modes of communication. I argue that Plutarch uses a talking pig to challenge philosophical categories, and that Lucian transforms a sham-philosopher of a talking-cock to undermine the very pretense of philosophical virtue. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle ‘In The Empire of the Senses’ and the Narrative Horizons of Comics
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/h6020031
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 14 May 2017
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Abstract
With their 1980s independent comics series The Puma Blues, writer Stephen Murphy and artist Michael Zulli presented a foreboding scifi vision of ecological catastrophe in a near-future USA, where mutated manta rays fly the skies, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam
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With their 1980s independent comics series The Puma Blues, writer Stephen Murphy and artist Michael Zulli presented a foreboding scifi vision of ecological catastrophe in a near-future USA, where mutated manta rays fly the skies, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the desert sands of the southwest and imminent nuclear devastation looms. Yet for all its pessimism, the series (in 2015 expanded, completed and reissued through Dover Press) has rightly earned critical accolades for Zulli’s extraordinary nature drawing, in particular of animals. The chapter “In the Empire of the Senses” puts Zulli’s stunning nature work most fully on display, utilizing comics techniques such as line work, framing, panel progression and sound effects to create the illusion of a puma’s nighttime hunt, often from its perception-rich point of view. Throughout the series, animal and non-human experience/umwelt receives a degree of attention rarely seen in comics, a genre more popularly known for superheroes and anthropomorphized “funny animal” stories. Through a close reading of “In the Empire of the Senses,” the paper explores Murphy and Zulli’s bid to depict animal ontology through comics’ unique capacities, contrasting their approach with that of cinema, viz. Bill Viola’s avant garde ethnographic documentary I Do Not What It Is I Am Like (1986). My analysis has implications for narratology, the potential of comics’ representational strategies and for the depiction of non-human experience more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “Against the Dog Only a Dog”. Talking Canines Civilizing Cynicism in Cervantes’ “coloquio de los perros” (With Tentative Remarks on the Discourse and Method of Animal Studies)
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/h6020028
Received: 1 January 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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Abstract
Deriving its designation from the Greek word for ‘dog’, cynicism is likely the only philosophical ‘interest group’ with a diachronically dependable affinity for various animals—particularly those of the canine kind. While dogs have met with differing value judgments, chiefly along a perceived human–animal
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Deriving its designation from the Greek word for ‘dog’, cynicism is likely the only philosophical ‘interest group’ with a diachronically dependable affinity for various animals—particularly those of the canine kind. While dogs have met with differing value judgments, chiefly along a perceived human–animal divide, it is specifically discourses with cynical affinities that render problematic this transitional field. The Cervantine “coloquio de los perros” has received scholarly attention for its (caninely) picaresque themes, its “cynomorphic” (Ziolkowski) narratological technique, its socio-historically informative accounts relating to Early Modern Europe and the Iberian peninsula, including its ‘zoopoetically’ (Derrida) relevant portrayal of dogs (see e.g., Alves, Beusterien, Martín); nor did the dialog’s mention of cynical snarling go unnoticed. The essay at hand commences with a chapter on questions of method pertaining to ‘animal narration’: with recourse to Montaigne, Descartes, and Derrida, this first part serves to situate the ensuing close readings with respect to the field of Animal Studies. The analysis of the Cervantine texts synergizes thematic and narratological aspects at the discourse historical level; it commences with a brief synopsis of the respective novellas in part 2; Section 3, Section 4 and Section 5 supply a description of the rhetorical modes of crafting plausibility in the framework narrative (“The Deceitful Marriage”), of pertinent (Scriptural) intertexts for the “Colloquy”. Parts 6–7 demonstrate that the choice of canine interlocutors as narrating agencies—and specifically in their capacity as dogs—is discursively motivated: no other animal than this animal, and precisely as animal, would here serve the discursive purpose that is concurrently present with the literal plane; for this dialogic novella partakes of a (predominantly Stoicizing) tradition attempting to resocialize the Cynics, which commences already with the appearance of the Ancient arch-Cynic ‘Diogenes’ on the scene. At the discursive level, a diachronic contextualization evinces that the Cervantine text takes up and outperforms those rhetorical techniques of reintegration by melding Christian, Platonic, Stoicizing elements with such as are reminiscent of Diogenical ones. Reallocating Blumenberg’s reading of a notorious Goethean dictum, this essay submits the formula ‘against the Dog only a dog’ as a concise précis of the Cervantine method at the discursive level, attained to via a decidedly pluralized rhetorical sermocination featuring, at a literal level, specifically canine narrators in a dialogic setting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Question of Life and Death: The Aesopic Animal Fables on Why Not to Kill
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/h6020029
Received: 12 March 2017 / Revised: 1 May 2017 / Accepted: 3 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
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Abstract
This article deals with Greek animal fables, traditionally attributed to a former slave, Aesop, who lived during the sixth century BCE. As a genre, the Aesopic fables, or the Aesopica, has had a significant impact on the Western fable tradition and modern
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This article deals with Greek animal fables, traditionally attributed to a former slave, Aesop, who lived during the sixth century BCE. As a genre, the Aesopic fables, or the Aesopica, has had a significant impact on the Western fable tradition and modern Western children’s literature. The Aesopica owes much to the Mesopotamian fables and has parallels in other Near Eastern cultures. Modern research has concentrated on tracing the oriental roots of the fable tradition and the dating of the different parts of the Aesopica, as well as defining the fable as a genre. The traditional reading of fables has, however, excluded animals qua animals, supposing that fables are mainly allegories of the human condition. The moral of the story (included in the epimythia or promythia) certainly guides one to read the stories anthropocentrically, but the original fables did not necessarily include this positioning element. Many fables address the situation when a prey animal, like a lamb, negotiates with a predator animal, like a wolf, by giving reasons why she should not be killed. In this article, I will concentrate on these fables and analyse them from the point of view of their structure and content. Comparing these fables with some animal similes in Homer’s Iliad, I suggest that these fables deal not only with the ethical problem of ‘might makes right’ as a human condition, but also the broader philosophical question of killing other living creatures and the problem of cruelty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle An Unheard, Inhuman Music: Narrative Voice and the Question of the Animal in Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk”
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 26; doi:10.3390/h6020026
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 25 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 3 May 2017
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Abstract
In The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida wonders whether it would be possible to think of the discourse of the animal in musical terms, and if so, whether one could change the key, or the tone of the music, by inserting
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In The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida wonders whether it would be possible to think of the discourse of the animal in musical terms, and if so, whether one could change the key, or the tone of the music, by inserting a “flat”—a “blue note” in other words. The task would be to render audible “an unheard language or music” that would be “somewhat inhuman” but a language nonetheless. This essay pursues this intriguing proposition by means of a reading Kafka’s “Josephine, the Singer or the Mouse Folk,” paying careful attention to the controversy regarding the status of Josephine’s vocalizations, which, moreover, is mirrored in the scientific discourse surrounding the ultrasonic songs of mice. What is at stake in rendering this inhuman music audible? And furthermore, how might we relate this debate to questions of narrative and above all to the concept of narrative “voice”? I explore these and related questions via a series of theoretical waypoints, including Paul Sheehan, Giorgio Agamben, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Nancy, with a view to establishing some of the critical parameters of an “animal narratology,” and of zoopoetics more generally. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Literary Autozoographies: Contextualizing Species Life in German Animal Autobiography
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 23; doi:10.3390/h6020023
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 13 April 2017
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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
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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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Animal Poetry and Empathy
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 18; doi:10.3390/h6020018
Received: 24 January 2017 / Revised: 29 March 2017 / Accepted: 5 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
This article discusses how our ideas of empathy are influenced by the dichotomy of mind versus body, also known as Cartesian dualism. Within the aesthetic field, this dichotomy is seen when researchers define narrative empathy as imaginatively reconstructing the fictional character’s thoughts and
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This article discusses how our ideas of empathy are influenced by the dichotomy of mind versus body, also known as Cartesian dualism. Within the aesthetic field, this dichotomy is seen when researchers define narrative empathy as imaginatively reconstructing the fictional character’s thoughts and feelings. Conversely, the empathy aroused by a non-narrative work of art is seen as an unconscious bodily mirroring of movements, postures or moods. Thinking dualistically does not only have consequences for what we consider human nature; it also affects our view on animals. To show the untenability of dualistic thinking, this article focuses on the animal poetry genre. Using the ideas of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I analyze two animal poems: “Inventing a Horse” by Meghan O’Rourke and “Spermaceti” by Les Murray. The analysis of these two poems suggests that the presiding ideas about aesthetic empathy and empathy in general need re-evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle Toward the Eco-Narrative: Rethinking the Role of Conflict in Storytelling
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 17; doi:10.3390/h6020017
Received: 16 January 2017 / Revised: 21 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Offered as a response to the increasingly popular call within the eco-humanities for stories that will help humankind adapt to catastrophic planetary conditions, this article proposes “the eco-narrative”—an approach to storytelling that strives to compose with, not for, its nonhuman characters. An extension
[...] Read more.
Offered as a response to the increasingly popular call within the eco-humanities for stories that will help humankind adapt to catastrophic planetary conditions, this article proposes “the eco-narrative”—an approach to storytelling that strives to compose with, not for, its nonhuman characters. An extension of eco-critical projects that analyze stories for their depictions of nonhumanity, the theoretical research herein brings ecological analysis of narrative to the level of structure. In particular, it problematizes the dominant plot model of conflict/climax/resolution, suggesting that stories motivated by conflict reinforce dualistic and anthropocentric habits for approaching the animal other. Evaluating two narratives concerning the human practice of killing animals—the Pew Commission’s report on Industrial Farm Animal Production and Annette Watson and Orville H. Huntington’s “They’re here—I can feel them”—the article observes how the former’s efforts at animal rights advocacy are undermined by its very storytelling framework. Celebrating the latter story’s more playful approach to narrative instead, the article ultimately suggests that a theory of “infinite play,” as developed by James P. Carse, can be used to re-envision the dominant plot model. A template for cooperation in the absence of known outcome, infinite play thus becomes the basis for the eco-narrative—a storytelling framework flexible enough to cocreate with nonhumanity, even during an environmental moment characterized by crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Narrative Transformed: The Fragments around Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 19; doi:10.3390/h6020019
Received: 7 February 2017 / Revised: 2 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, in which the ape-turned-human Rotpeter provides a narrative account of his life, has been scrutinized with regard to its allegorical, scientific, and historical implications. This article shifts the focus toward the narrative set-up by closely reading
[...] Read more.
Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy”, in which the ape-turned-human Rotpeter provides a narrative account of his life, has been scrutinized with regard to its allegorical, scientific, and historical implications. This article shifts the focus toward the narrative set-up by closely reading the transformation that can be traced in the sequence of several narrative attempts found in Kafka’s manuscripts. Analyzing the fragments around this topic, I show how Kafka probes different angles—from a meeting between a first-person narrator and Rotpeter’s impresario and a dialogue between the narrator and Rotpeter, via the well-known “Report” itself, on to a letter by one of Rotpeter’s former teachers—that reveal a narrative transformation equally important as the metamorphosis from animal to human. The focus on the narrative constellations and on the lesser-known constitutive margins of the “Report” help to better understand, moreover, the complex relationship between immediacy and mediation, the ethnological concern of speech for the self and the unknown animal other, and poetological questions of production, representation, and reception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Barking at Heaven’s Door: Pluto Mehra in the Hindi Film Dil Dhadakne Do
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 16; doi:10.3390/h6020016
Received: 15 December 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 April 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
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Abstract
In this article, I discuss the representation of pets in the 2015 commercial Hindi comedy-drama (commonly known as Bollywood) Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD), which translates to Let the Heart Beat; this is the first ever case of a Hindi movie having a dog
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In this article, I discuss the representation of pets in the 2015 commercial Hindi comedy-drama (commonly known as Bollywood) Dil Dhadakne Do (DDD), which translates to Let the Heart Beat; this is the first ever case of a Hindi movie having a dog as a narrator. For centuries, Indian animal tales have had a habit of anthropomorphizing, but generally narratives about dogs uphold the basic prejudice that they are polluting and degraded animals. DDD introduces a dog named Pluto Mehra, not only as a pet, but as the fifth member of the Mehra family, with the role of the sutradhaar (storyteller, narrator) who recounts the story of a rich, dysfunctional family. Pluto knows the Mehras’ foibles and follies, and he is the only voice of reason among them. A generational shift in one’s outlook towards pets has taken place in the Indian middle classes: pets are no longer perceived as animals that must serve some purpose, but are actually considered to be equal members of the family, even becoming a statement of style for pet owners. I analyze this attitude reversal toward animals within the context of a globalized economy and consumerist ideology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle “And in That Moment I Leapt upon His Shoulder”: Non-Human Intradiegetic Narrators in The Wind on the Moon
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 13; doi:10.3390/h6020013
Received: 9 January 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 26 March 2017 / Published: 30 March 2017
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Abstract
Non-human narrators, by definition anthropomorphized, fill different functions in literature, and have different effects, not always positive for the species that is utilized, for example to voice a human political concern. However, many animal studies scholars agree that anthropomorphism, while inadequate, may be
[...] Read more.
Non-human narrators, by definition anthropomorphized, fill different functions in literature, and have different effects, not always positive for the species that is utilized, for example to voice a human political concern. However, many animal studies scholars agree that anthropomorphism, while inadequate, may be the best way we have to get to know another species. Animal characters who tell their own, autobiographical, stories are particularly interesting in this regard. Eric Linklater’s children’s novel The Wind on the Moon (1944), raises posthumanist questions about human–animal differences, similarities and language, especially through its engagement of several non-human intradiegetic narrators. In a novel with surprisingly few other forms of characterization of the non-human characters, their own detailed narratives become a highly significant means of access to their species characteristics, their consciousness, and their needs. In an analysis of these embedded narratives using Genette’s theory of narrative levels and functions, as well as intersections of speech act theory and cognitive narratology, this article exposes an otherwise inaccessible dimension of characterization in Linklater’s novel. It argues that the embedded narratives, in contrast to crude anthropomorphism, are in fact what enables both a verbalization of the character narrators’ otherness, and a connection and comprehension between species. In other words, these non-human narratives constitute what might be called (with Garrard) examples of critical anthropomorphism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle Unreliability and the Animal Narrator in Richard Adams’s The Plague Dogs
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 6; doi:10.3390/h6010006
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 13 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
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Abstract
Richard Adams’s talking animal story The Plague Dogs (1978), with its deeply genre-atypical mode of narration, offers a multiplicity of avenues to explore the literary animal as animal. The story draws much of its power from the psychological complexity and related unreliability of
[...] Read more.
Richard Adams’s talking animal story The Plague Dogs (1978), with its deeply genre-atypical mode of narration, offers a multiplicity of avenues to explore the literary animal as animal. The story draws much of its power from the psychological complexity and related unreliability of both canine narrators, two research lab escapees gone feral. Both the terrier Snitter and the black mongrel Rowf are mentally ill and experience a highly subjective, part-fantastic world. In episodes of zero focalization, a sarcastic voice comments on the plot from the off, aggressively attacking a thoroughly anthropocentric superstructure the protagonists themselves are oblivious of, and presenting all that is normally constructed as “rational” in the implied reader’s world as a carnivalesque farce. Combining these equally unreliable narratives, The Plague Dogs creates a unique mixture of what Phelan (2007) calls “estranging” and “bonding” unreliability and brings to light the devastating consequences of anthropocentrism. The Plague Dogs not only defamiliarizes a genre usually committed to conventional means of storytelling, but the dominant Western conception of the status of animals in the world, showing that once we start to read the animal as animal, this sets into motion an avalanche of other concepts in need of re-reading, among them the very ones making up the fundamental pillars of Western societies’ anthropocentric self-conception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle An Animal-Centered Perspective on Colonial Oppression: Animal Representations and the Narrating Ox in Uwe Timm’s ‘‘Morenga’’ (1978)
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 3; doi:10.3390/h6010003
Received: 20 December 2016 / Accepted: 4 February 2017 / Published: 10 February 2017
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Abstract
As a result of its topic and its narrative style, Uwe Timm’s novel ‘Morenga’ (1978) marks an important step in the development of postcolonial German literature. The main theme of the book is the bloody suppression of the Herero and the Nama uprisings
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As a result of its topic and its narrative style, Uwe Timm’s novel ‘Morenga’ (1978) marks an important step in the development of postcolonial German literature. The main theme of the book is the bloody suppression of the Herero and the Nama uprisings through the German army in South-West Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. With recourse to historical and fictional documents and by using different narrative perspectives, the text achieves a plurality of voices and thereby destabilizes a one-dimensional view on colonialism. The present article discusses the functions of the nonhuman animals appearing in ‘Morenga’. It is assumed that the animal representations are an essential part of the plot and underscore the criticism of colonial rule in a narrative manner too. The novel contains several descriptions of suffering animals and links them to the harm of the Herero and the Nama in order to point out the ruthlessness of the colonists. Moreover, the book features a story-telling ox, which initiates a reflection process about possible ways of narrating colonial history. The talking ox adds a specific animal-centered perspective on colonial oppression and raises questions about emancipation, self-determination, and the agency of the nonhuman ‘other’ Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Function of HumAnimAllegory
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/h6010002
Received: 27 July 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 22 January 2017
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Abstract
This article presents a critical reading of the function of the animal-human allegory or the “humanimallegory” in both the animated films Animal Farm and Chicken Run. Based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name, Animal Farm provides an allegorical representation of
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This article presents a critical reading of the function of the animal-human allegory or the “humanimallegory” in both the animated films Animal Farm and Chicken Run. Based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name, Animal Farm provides an allegorical representation of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism in the Soviet Union by relaying Orwell’s story of a revolution led by a group of farm animals and its aftermath. Animal Farm ultimately reduces its fictional animal characters to simple metaphors for real human subjects, thus serving the most common function of the animal-human allegory in literature as well as film. In contrast, improvising on the many prisoner-of-war films that were produced during the first few decades following World War II, Chicken Run tells the story of a group of chickens who attempt to escape from an egg farm. Chicken Run complicates the function of the animal-human allegory, though, by resisting the allegorical reduction of its fictional animal characters to simple metaphors for real human subjects. By presenting a critical reading of these two different films, this article suggests that the literary concept of allegory itself remains circumscribed within the philosophical tradition of humanism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle Narrating Animal Trauma in Bulgakov and Tolstoy
Humanities 2016, 5(4), 84; doi:10.3390/h5040084
Received: 5 October 2016 / Revised: 6 November 2016 / Accepted: 8 November 2016 / Published: 15 November 2016
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Abstract
Following the recent “animal turn” in literary studies, which has inspired scholars to revisit traditional human-centered interpretations of texts narrated by animals, this article focuses on the convergence of animal studies and trauma theory. It offers new animal-centered close readings of Tolstoy’s Strider
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Following the recent “animal turn” in literary studies, which has inspired scholars to revisit traditional human-centered interpretations of texts narrated by animals, this article focuses on the convergence of animal studies and trauma theory. It offers new animal-centered close readings of Tolstoy’s Strider and Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog, paying attention to animal pain rather than seeing it, and the text as a whole, as an allegory of human society. Like many other authors of literary fiction featuring animal narrators, Tolstoy and Bulgakov employ a kind of empathic ventriloquism to narrate animal pain, an important project which, however, given the status of both the animal and trauma outside human language, and thus susceptible to being distorted by it, produces inauthentic discourse (animal-like, rather than animal narration); therefore, these authors get closest to animal pain, not through sophisticated narration, but through the use of ellipses and onomatopoeia. Ultimately, any narratological difficulty with animal focalization is minor compared to the ethical imperative of anti-speciesist animal-standpoint criticism, and the goal is to reconceive the status of animals in literature so as to change their ontological place in the world, urging that this critical work and animal rights advocacy be continued in the classroom. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
Open AccessArticle Animal Autobiography; Or, Narration beyond the Human
Humanities 2016, 5(4), 82; doi:10.3390/h5040082
Received: 10 August 2016 / Revised: 11 October 2016 / Accepted: 13 October 2016 / Published: 18 October 2016
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Abstract
In engaging with acts of self-narration that cross species lines, creators of animal autobiographies also broach questions about genre, truth status, and the structure as well as the politics of narrative representation. To address these questions, the present article draws not just on
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In engaging with acts of self-narration that cross species lines, creators of animal autobiographies also broach questions about genre, truth status, and the structure as well as the politics of narrative representation. To address these questions, the present article draws not just on scholarship on (animal) autobiography but also on ideas from the fields of linguistic semantics, politeness theory, and discourse analysis, including the “framing and footing” approach that focuses on talk emerging in contexts of face-to-face interaction and that derives most directly from the work of Erving Goffman. On the basis of this research, and using case studies that range from animal riddles to Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals (2014), a collection of life stories posthumously narrated by a variety of nonhuman tellers, I profile autobiographical acts that reach beyond the human as ways of speaking for or in behalf of animal others. Some animal autobiographies correlate with acts of telling for which humans themselves remain the principals as well as authors; their animal animators remain relegated to the role of commenting on human institutions, values, practices, and artifacts. Other examples, however, can be read as co-authored acts of narrating in behalf of equally hybrid (or “humanimal”) principals. These experiments with narration beyond the human afford solidarity-building projections of other creatures’ ways of being-in-the-world—projections that enable a reassessment, in turn, of forms of human being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)

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