This article will position James Joyce’s novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
(1916) and Ulysses
(1922) as literary works that are concerned with ecological issues associated with agriculture; here, this concern is traced through Stephen Dedalus’s awareness of land and animals beyond and outside Dublin. Specifically, Joyce frequently depicts the colonization of Ireland as centered on the control of nonhumans in the form of agriculture, which he brings into the novels’ political foreground. I will argue further that Joyce is equally critical of the violent nationalist rhetoric and insurrections of early 1900s Ireland, as a movement, which perpetuated the agricultural control of land. Joyce illustrates the violence of this agricultural aporia through the lives of nonhumans, the world of “filthy cowyards” and cannibalistic sows. Yet, this paper will also find in Stephen’s relations with animals an effective aesthetic rebellion to this aporia, for example, his self-styling as the “Bous Stephanoumenos”, as well as his interactions with dogs and swallows as fellow Dubliners, artists, and sufferers. These examples point to a kind of queer ecology as a form of resistance to agricultural violence.
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