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Animal Stories

Narrating across Species Lines

Susan McHugh

Publication Year: 2011

Beginning with a historical account of why animal stories pose endemic critical challenges to literary and cultural theory, Animal Stories argues that key creative developments in narrative form became inseparable from shifts in animal politics and science in the past century. Susan McHugh traces representational patterns specific to modern and contemporary fictions of cross-species companionship through a variety of media—including novels, films, fine art, television shows, and digital games—to show how nothing less than the futures of all species life is at stake in narrative forms.

McHugh’s investigations into fictions of people relying on animals in civic and professional life—most obviously those of service animal users and female professional horse riders—showcase distinctly modern and human–animal forms of intersubjectivity. But increasingly graphic violence directed at these figures indicates their ambivalent significance to changing configurations of species.

Reading these developments with narrative adaptations of traditional companion species relations during this period— queer pet memoirs and farm animal fictions—McHugh clarifies the intercorporeal intimacies—the perforations of species boundaries now proliferating in genetic and genomic science—and embeds the representation of animals within biopolitical frameworks.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Posthumanities


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

When I began this book over a decade ago, I never anticipated how much it would depend on the work of others in cultivating the field of animal studies. Citations in the following pages often serve a double purpose, not only noting the work of but also paying homage to scholars and artists who make room for discussions of animals and animality ...

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Introduction: Animal Narratives and Social Agency

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pp. 1-24

A century ago, Irish novelist George Moore addressed the troubled history of the English novel—a “hackney,” in pointed contrast to its thoroughbred Russian and French counterparts—in a series of imaginary conversations with Edmund Gosse in which literary animals prove much more than mere metaphors.1 ...

Part I. Intersubjective Fictions

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1. Seeing Eyes/Private Eyes: Service Dogs and Detective Fictions

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pp. 27-64

Several urban american dog people have shared with me a peculiar passing fantasy of disability. They imagine equipping themselves with dark glasses and their pet dogs with harnesses in order to enjoy universal access to public transportation, restaurants, and parks otherwise forbidden to their canine companions. ...

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2. Velvet Revolutions: Girl–Horse Stories

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pp. 65-112

Like ABC's release of Blind Justice, media conglomerate NBC’s decision to air segments of the 2008 Olympic equestrian games in prime time was a first for television, also one that found most enthusiastic support within a small community defined by rare historic achievements. ...

Part II. Intercorporeal Narratives

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3. Breeding Narratives of Intimacy: Shaggy Dogs, Shagging Sheep

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pp. 115-162

Would he or wouldn’t he? The question hovered over comedian Drew Carey’s first performance on the weekday program The Price Is Right in place of Bob Barker, a prominent animal activist who retired in 2007 as the longest-running daytime game-show host in North American television history. ...

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4. The Fictions and Futures of Farm Animals: Semi-Living to “Animalacra” Pig Tales

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pp. 163-210

“How much of an animal has there to be for it to be a dead animal?” asks anthropologist Garry Marvin on the subject of taxidermy, and such a question also applies to the modern experience of meat.1 Well-meaning people may eschew terms such as “meat animals” and “farm animals” because they reduce forms of life to a use value. ...

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Conclusion: Toward a Narrative Ethology

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pp. 211-220

At the beginning of the video documentary (a companion to her 1999 memoir of the same title) Reason for Hope, primatology superstar Jane Goodall pokes fun at how a particular set of novels influenced her. Recalling how she loved reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan novels as a child, she opines that she “hated” his Jane, then says what her fans have always known: ...


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pp. 221-258


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pp. 259-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780816676989
E-ISBN-10: 0816676984
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816670338

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Posthumanities
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OCLC Number: 798760970
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Animal Stories