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Frame 31.1 – Animal Studies | June 2018

Recent decades have seen the emergence of animal studies in a wide variety of disciplines that cut across the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. In accordance with Donna Haraway’s assertion that it “matters which worlds world worlds and which stories tell stories” (Cosmopolitan Animals, vii), scholars working in the field have taken trans-disciplinary and relational approaches to do justice to the complex network of affiliations between human and non-human lifeworlds. On a theoretical level, Haraway’s ‘naturecultures’, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s elaboration of ‘rhizomes’, and Jacques Derrida’s concept of the ‘animot’ have helped set the agenda in literary animal studies.

Coming to more literary concerns — and returning to Haraway’s aforementioned dictum — Derrida’s animot provides a timely reminder of the ‘epistemic violence’ inherent in the category ‘animal’, suggesting that (political) representation of animals is not ‘a matter of “giving speech back” to animals’ (The Animal That Therefore I Am, 48). Rather, being properly responsive to the multiplicity of ‘situated knowledges’ and co-constitutive relationality of human-animal interactions demands a rethinking of our ethical, legal-political, aesthetic, rhetorical and socio-historical categories, to name a few. In other words, it demands a trans-species reconfiguration of the cosmopolitical in the fullest sense of the term.

In this issue, various scholars consider the implications that putting humananimal relationships at the centre of enquiry might have for fields such as literary studies, cultural studies, philosophy, and aesthetics. In what ways could a focus on animal life in literature shed light on our shared vulnerability? How do literary genres shape our understanding of human-animal relationships, and how might these relationships be reimagined? What new light might the inclusion of ‘species’ shed on literary texts read through the lens of biopolitical power or postcolonial theory?

Main Articles

Mario Ortiz-Robles | The Animal Novel
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Kári Driscoll | Second Glance at the Panther, or: What Does It Mean to Read Zoopoetically?
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Melissa T. Yang | Thirteen Ways of Looking at Grip the Raven
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Nicole Shukin | Animal Studies, Indigenous Spacecraft
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Dawne McCance | Specters of Animals
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Masterclass
Alice Lambert | Holding up a Mirror to the Nonhuman Within: Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
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Vincent Reijnders | Where to Look, What to Emphasise: The Conflict of Dividing Attention between the Individual Animal and the Global Process of Climate Change – at Rotterdam Zoo
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