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Humanities 2017, 6(4), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h6040089

Whiteout: Animal Traces in Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World

Department of Comparative Literature, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University, 60598 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 8 November 2017 / Published: 11 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Narratology)
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Abstract

Literary animal studies are confronted with a systematic question: How can writing, as a human-made sign system, represent the nonhuman animal as an autonomous agent without falling back into the pitfalls of anthropomorphism? Against the backdrop of this problem, this paper asks how the medium of film allows for a different representation of the animal and analyzes two of Werner Herzog’s later documentary films. Although the depiction of animals and landscapes has always played a significant part in Herzog’s films, critical assessments of his work—including those of Herzog himself—tended to view the role of nature imagery as purely allegorical: it expresses the inner nature, the inner landscapes of the film’s human protagonists. This paper tries to open up a different view. It argues that both Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World develop an aesthetic that depicts nonhuman nature as an autonomous and lively presence. In the close proximity amongst camera, human, and nonhuman agents, a clear distinction between nature and culture is increasingly blurred. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal agency; filmic representation of animals; material ecocriticism; Moby-Dick; Werner Herzog animal agency; filmic representation of animals; material ecocriticism; Moby-Dick; Werner Herzog
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Völker, O. Whiteout: Animal Traces in Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World. Humanities 2017, 6, 89.

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