Animal Remainders, Remaining Animal: Cross-Species Collaborative Encounters in Victorian Literature and Culture
Doctor of Philosophy
“Animal Remainders” responds to the challenge of—and challenges to—Victorian animal studies, a sub-field of Victorian scholarship that has not seen the same popular critical reception as modernist or contemporary literary animal studies. Departing from the Victorian critical trend of reading literary animals as salient figures only so long as they can be imagined as symbolic or metaphoric for humans and human concerns, “Animal Remainders” takes literary animals—whether domestic pet or insect—seriously as animals. Moreover, these literary animals are acknowledged as agents of ethical production and transformation structured through a “chimerical collaboration.” The chimerical collaboration is inherently cross-species in nature and, within this collaboration, animals are capable of co-authoring the human and cross-species relations through the act of co-constitution, as well as being capable of explicitly or implicitly co-authoring texts such as literature and music in spite of communications barriers. By reading literary animals as collaborators with, rather than metaphors for, the human I demonstrate that the humanism and anthropocentrism we credit the Victorians and their literatures with as a discipline breaks down—at least in part—as Victorian literary animals are more radical than they have been given credit for. In this spirit, each chapter of “Animal Remainders” focuses primarily on critically marginalized readings of cross-species collaborations as they manifest in Victorian texts—including Charles Dickens’ early novels, Wilkie Collins’s antivivisection novel Heart and Science, animal autobiographies by Virginia Woolf and Anna Sewell, and the poetry of Michael Field—as well as in contemporary literature, experimental music, and the digital humanities. “Animal Remainders” foregrounds important methodological questions about the forces which discipline Victorian scholarship and the history informing our historicism, as well as more intimate questions about ourselves as scholars and living beings in a cross-species world. It enacts a fundamental un-knowing of the Victorian human and its—real or represented—animal other by asking, who is this nineteenth-century human (or) animal we study, but also who is the “we” doing the studying and through what histories and structures of knowledge have we come to know ourselves (and others) as such?
Animal studies; Victorian animal studies; Charles Dickens; Wilkie Collins; Michael Field; More... Anna Sewell; Matthew Herbert; One pig; Animal's people; Whym Chow; Heart; Science; Antivivisection; Posthumanism; Animal theory; Humanism; Cross-species collaborations; Victorian animal rights; Cora Diamond; Cary Wolfe; Jacques Derrida; Virginia Woolf; Black Beauty Less...