Abstracts and Bios
‘I was born a female human animal’: Female and Animal Hybridity in Leonora Carrington’s
This paper uses Leonora Carrington’s short story ‘The Debutante’ (1940) as a focus for
examining the surrealist negotiation of the boundaries of human and animal, masculine and
feminine, nature and culture. It sets Carrington’s battle with femininity in the context of
surrealism as a movement founded on male subordination of women’s artistic capacity.
Situated on the periphery of surrealism, which feminists regard as ‘the radical other of
modernism’, Carrington created female-hybrid creatures in her painting and prose – always
part human, part beast – to escape fixed constructions of femininity. I will read Carrington’s
employment of the female-hybrid amidst women’s lost sense of physical wholeness in the
surrealism cultural movement. Carrington responds to the male surrealists’ fragmentation and
sexualisation of women’s bodies in their artwork by undermining bodily and psychic fixity.
This paper will therefore be interdisciplinary, reading ‘The Debutante’ alongside
hypermasculine renditions of women as mythical creatures and sexualised objects.
Carrington’s tool of changeable hybridity is predicated on the surrealist idea of
metamorphosis as a metaphor for physical transformation in which new identities can
become manifest. In ‘The Debutante’, this takes the form of a hyena disguised as a maid. The
story presents a young female protagonist who, due to present herself at a ball in her honour,
colludes with a hyena to take her place. My reading will make a comparison between animal
and cultural constructions of femininity, to reach a conclusion that Carrington combines
conflicting identities in order to counter the notion that the female self is a fixed monolithic
structure grounded in hierarchical oppositions.
Last year Rachel graduated from my Masters in ‘Modernities’ at Glasgow University,
following my undergraduate degree at Exeter University in English Literature. Rachel runs a
feminist project called ‘Women Surrealists’, which reclaims the hidden artistic legacies of
women who contributed greatly to the movement. She is the Communications Officer of the
Scottish Youth Parliament, an organisation which represents Scotland’s young people, and
campaigns to change policy affecting them.
Samuel Beckett’s curious responsiveness to birds is evident in a letter he wrote to
his lover Pamela Mitchell in 1955: ‘Visited by partridges now daily, about midday.
Queer birds. They hop, listen, hop, listen, never seem to eat.’ At the time, Beckett
was translating his 1951 novel Malone Dies into English, in which birds feature
prominently. Its narrator spends a great deal of the start of the novel selecting the
final stories he will tell within the time remaining to him, eventually deciding: ‘I think I
shall be able to tell myself four stories, each one on a different theme. One about a
man, another about a woman, a third about a thing and finally one about an animal,
a bird probably.’ A boy, Sapo, features in one of these stories. Malone gives him pale
blue eyes and notes that ‘he loved the flight of the hawk and could distinguish it from
all others’, but in agitation later says ‘I don’t like those gull’s eyes. They remind me of
an old shipwreck.’ Birds in flight are associated with keen eyesight and the passage
of time in several other works, including the early 1960s story ‘Fizzles 3: Afar a bird.’
The symbolic insubstantiality of birds seen from a distance collides with the clumsily
grounded and rather less poetic variety in the 1957 novella From an Abandoned
Work, to the frustration of its narrator:
Birds with my piercing sight I have seen flying so high, so far, that they
seemed at rest, then the next minute they were all about me, crows have
done this. Ducks are perhaps the worst, to be suddenly stamping and
stumbling in the midst of ducks, or hens, any class of poultry, few things are
This talk draws on the work of Thom van Dooren, John Wilson Foster, Carrie
Rohman, Kari Weil, and Beckett and Animals, the 2013 collection of essays featuring
a chapter on parrots in his writing. Having surveyed what might be described as
Beckett’s ‘bird period’ of the 1950s and 60s, I will concentrate on the 1960 play
Happy Days, his most acute representation of the avian. Trapped up to her waist in
the first act of the play, Winnie, the bird-like protagonist, wears a hat with a crumpled
feather, fixates on the broad open expanse of sky that dwarfs her, uses her hands to
peck at anything within reach, and flutters her arms like useless wings. The play
ends with her trapped up to her neck, singing. I will suggest that Winnie is a sentinel
creature whose warnings are ignored: the unnamed catastrophe that haunts the play
but is never named becomes frighteningly tangible during her periodic moments of
Dr Julie Bates is an Assistant Professor in the School of English in Trinity College
Dublin. Her first book, Beckett’s Art of Salvage, was published by Cambridge
University Press in 2017. Essays on Beckett are forthcoming in the Oxford
Handbook of Beckett Studies, the Journal of Beckett Studies, and Samuel Beckett
Today/Aujourd’hui. Other current projects include a special issue of the journal Word
& Image and an article for Women: A Cultural Review, both on the artist Louise
Bourgeois; a study of contemporary Irish non-fiction for the New Irish Studies
(Cambridge UP); and a project on the writer and artist Erica Van Horn.
Claude McKay’s Feral Modernism
This paper uses ferality as an interpretive concept to understand the co-constitution of race,
nature, and animality in Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom. “Feral” describes an uncertainty about
home in that it names that which has once been part of the domestic sphere and has subsequently either escaped or been banished; drawing from evolutionary biology, I use it not merely as a synonym for “wild” but rather as an articulation of a ragged and unpredictable relationship with home. Animal figures and animality are a crucial to that relationship, and to the critical concept of ferality that informs my investigation of McKay’s work. Published in 1933, and featuring a Jamaican protagonist educated and cultivated abroad in colonial schools, the novel presents an ambivalent and often vexed relationship with notions of home and belonging. I show that McKay’s narrative challenges superficial definitions of racial identity that engage stereotypical
modernist oppositions of the black (animalized) savage and the cultured white human. Reading
McKay alongside Frantz Fanon, whose work on postcolonial phenomenology blurs the
distinction between specific and universal experience, I argue that McKay acknowledges such
facile racializations and disrupts them by crafting an aspirational narrative of humanism that
enfolds animality, primitive magic, and Western intellectual history. Such utopian ideals never
presented themselves in McKay’s lifetime, revealing the double bind of McKay’s feral
modernism: in bringing together these seemingly disparate identifications, McKay’s novel thus
presents the character’s “home” of Banana Bottom as an amalgamation of desires that are
imaginable but unrealizable, a tension paralleled by a domestic that is close at hand and yet
painfully out of reach. Neither polemic nor conservative, the novel creates spaces to engage in
questions without formulating answers, surfacing a productive un-decidability that is at the heart
of feral modernism.
Lauren Benjamin is a PhD candidate in the departments of Comparative Literature and English
Language and Literature with a certificate in Judaic Studies. Her dissertation, Feral
Modernisms, uses the concept of the feral animal to show that home in modernist literature is
conceived in terms of domination and entrapment, longing and belonging, precarity and
permanence. She is currently the Richard & Lillian Ives Graduate Fellow at the University of
Michigan Institute for the Humanities and has work forthcoming or under review at The Journal
of Modern Literature and Modern Language Notes.
DANIEL J. BOWMAN
Animal Waste: Muckraking in Upton Sinclair
As the term ‘muckraking’ was first introduced in the opening decade of the twentieth century to describe a scandalous form of investigative journalism, the concept of waste was becoming a pejorative byword in American society. Whether understood as the inefficient use of time and resources, or the biological output of all living creatures (faeces), waste was a blotch on civilised human society. Attempting to banish what Cecelia Tichi terms the ‘industrial-era devil,’ modern technology was called upon to eliminate waste from inefficient and out-dated systems limited by the power of animals, both human and nonhuman. Efficiency was thus understood in relation to waste as clean is to dirty; mechanised production is to manual labour; civilised is to primitive; human is to animal. Machine technology, in this conventional arrangement, acts as a force which confirms human exceptionalism by reducing humanity’s contact with waste, interposing between ‘clean’ civilisation and ‘dirty’ nature. However, the use of this same technology for capitalistic gain is in fact premised upon the production of waste at unprecedented levels, whilst diversifying and rendering such waste invisible to ‘civilised’ society. The purpose of this paper is to explore how notorious muckraker Upton Sinclair (1878 – 1968) brings this waste to light through characters who do society’s dirty work (including literal muck raking), using examples from the oil fields of Oil! (1927) and the Chicago packing houses of The Jungle (1904) to unpack the conventional understanding of the relationship between humanity, animality, waste, and technology in the modernist period.
Daniel J Bowman is a PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Sheffield, in his home town. After receiving funding from the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities, he is currently working on his thesis entitled Horsepower: Animals in Automotive Culture, 1895-1935. Daniel’s research is concerned with literary representations of animality and technology in the modernist period, with particular emphasis on the impact of early automotive culture on the lives of animals (both human and nonhuman).
‘The Fisherman Sunk in Dreams’: Fish and Artistic Imagination in Virginia Woolf’s Work
Virginia Woolf’s fiction and non-fiction is permeated by images of water,
populated by fish, crayfish, sharks, or whales. Among Woolf’s water-creatures the image
of the fish, plunging into the abyss, or darting to the surface, remains closely linked to
the author’s conception of artistic imagination. In Professions for Women she compares
the (female) artist to a “fisherman lying sunk in dreams”, fishing in “dark places where
the largest fish slumber”. In A Room of One’s Own she describes her flight of imagination
being broken by the Beadle who drove her off the Oxbridge lawn, interrupting her line of
thought, and sending her “little fish” into hiding. In Mrs Dalloway, Woolf again links
artists to water-dwellers by labeling them with the idiom ‘queer fish’. Mircea Eliade
describes water as the supreme symbol of creation and potentiality: it dissolves and
breaks up all forms, but also offers new knowledge and insight. Creatures associated
with it – fish, dolphins, shell-fish – enjoy its powers, sharing them with those they come
into contact (Patterns in Comparative Religion, 1958). To go back to Virginia Woolf, the
image of the fisherman fishing for creatures hidden in the depths of the sea is therefore
comparable to the artist’s waiting for creative inspiration, the ‘fish’ that animates their
imagination. In this presentation, I analyze the image of fish in Virginia Woolf’s novels
and essays, and its significance for her concept of artistic imagination. What are the
prerequisites for artistic imagination, and how is imagination linked to inspiration? How
does the artist externalize their vision?
Dr. Monika Bregović graduated in English Language and Literature and Comparative
Literature from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb in
2008. She obtained a doctoral degree in 2017, and she currently works as a Postdoctoral
Associate at the University of Zadar, Croatia, where she teaches courses in modern and
contemporary drama, Shakespeare, and the modern British novel. She also works as an
editor for the Croatian literary magazine Quorum. She co-organized several conferences
and projects, published original research papers on theatre, performing arts and drama
in a range of Croatian and international journals, and is currently editing two books of
conference proceedings, one on the contemporary legacy of Shakespeare and the other
on the linguistic and literary aspects of migrations.
Experimental Animals in Early-Soviet Literature, Formalist Theory, and Medical Practice
Soviet experiments on human and nonhuman animals continue to attract international
audiences; this is evidenced by the world-wide screening of Alexandru Solomon’s award-
winning 2017 documentary Tarzan’s Testicles, which traces the cultural implications of
early-Soviet experimentalism, including a project, conceived in the late 1920s, to create a
hybrid species of human and nonhuman primates by means of artificial insemination.
In this talk I suggest that the concern with the “nonhuman” formed the focus of much
Formalist theorising and creative production. Paying close attention to nonhuman animals in
Viktor Shklovsky’s writings, I propose a new critical perspective which places Formalist
theories of arts and literature in dialogue with early twentieth-century advances in biomedical
sciences, zoology, and experimental biology. When Shklovsky famously coined the term
ostranenie (“defamiliarization” or “estrangement”) in a 1917 essay “Art as Device,” he
suggested that seeing from the perspective of a nonhuman animal could correct the
shortcomings of human perception. Unlike automatized human perception that relies on
recognition and habitually produces stagnant art forms, nonhuman cognition promises to
equip artists with the ability to bypass preconceived notions about the world and provide their
audiences with alternative ways of experiencing reality.
I propose to examine the cultural and scientific background of Shklovsky’s theory that, in
providing the means of recreating the perspective of a nonhuman animal, literature is capable
of correcting human perception. In particular, I place it within a broader trend in biomedical
research which attempted to cure the insufficiencies of human bodies with the transplantation
of animal organs and by administering animal excretions, such as Pavlov’s much publicised
“natural gastric juice of a dog.” Both Shklovsky’s theory and his creative practice suggest
that inter-species empathy is instrumental not only in questions of ethics (such as animal
confinement, animal ownership, and breeding practices), but also in creating new neural
connections in the brain.
Asiya Bulatova is a research fellow at the University of Warsaw within the Marie
Skłodowska-Curie programme POLONEZ. She has been a postdoctoral fellow at the New
Europe College in Bucharest and NTU in Singapore. Her current project focuses on the
cultural and scientific politics of human agency in Russian Formalist theories of literature and
early-Soviet biomedical research. Her work has been published in Transcultural Studies,
Comparative Critical Studies, and Poetics Today.
“Behind her moving hams”: Revisiting the Sexual Politics of Ulysses
Leopold Bloom’s large appetite for meat and women are the introductory facts of his
character in Ulysses. Images of carnivorism continue to pervade the entirety of the text and are
almost always accompanied by expressions of masculine sexual desire. It is Joyce’s frank
representation of the human body and sexuality in particular which has become the site of
many of the text’s claims to a certain feminist, or more broadly progressive sensibility. Ulysses
occupies the privileged status of modernist masterwork, representing for many a break with
aesthetic tradition concurrent with a certain social liberation of the human subject. However, I
would like to contend that approaching the text from an animal studies perspective, specifically
through the concept of the carnophallogocentric, offers a more nuanced reading of the extent
of Ulysses’s cultural subversion.
In my paper I intend to deploy the carnophallogocentric as first introduced by Derrida,
and later elaborated by feminist thinker Carol Adams in order to bring to light the limits of
Ulysses’s as an exemplar of “freeing” literary sexuality. I argue that Joyce’s unabashed
treatment of sexuality remains inextricable from the patriarchal superstructure through its
reliance on metaphors of carnivorous appetite. Finally, I will attempt to reconcile contemporary
readings of the text’s appropriation of animality with the reality of its complicity in the
interdependent subjugation of women and animals.
Devon Clifton is a doctoral student in the English department at Brown University. She holds an
M.A. in English and American Literature from New York University, and a B.A. from Lafayette
College. Her current work centers around “impossible” subjectivities, feminist and critical race
theories, as well as anti-imperial thinking. She is always interested in the problematic
entanglement of the category of the animal, and the racial/sexual other.
“Flesh and blood and temper”: Subjectivity, Memory, and Trauma in “The Animal Story”
The Victorian era arguably begins the cultural, scientific, and socio-political shift in the status of animals that bleeds into the twentieth century. This era witnessed the emergence of the RSPCA, anti-vivisection movements, and increased calls for moral concern towards animals. The fictionalized “animal autobiography,” most notably represented by Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (1877), emerged as a prominent mode to protest animal cruelty by providing animals with a voice and depicting them as beings of consciousness and self-hood. My paper explores “The Animal Story” as a literary genre which influenced the modern imagination and traces the shift from seeing animals as objects – as machines, bodies to be used, and exploited things – to what Tom Regan terms “subjects-of-a-life.”
Using Sewell’s Ginger and Canadian Ernest Thompson Seton’s Lobo, from his collection Wild Animals I Have Known (1898), as my primary case studies, I posit that these literary animal stories offer an insight into the psychological, emotional, and mental states of animals. In this paper, I am particularly interested in how these narratives draw attention to the effects of familial bonds, trauma, and past experiences on character and mental state. I analyze Seton’s “realistic animal stories” alongside Sewell by examining what he calls the “personal histories” of wild animals. Using different methodologies, both writers nevertheless call into question the rights of animals, their relationships with humans, and ultimately their status as complex, conscious beings. In exploring Seton’s and Sewell’s works, I demonstrate how the “The Animal Story” can be understood as a genre that problematizes traditional conceptions of animal psychology and the notion that human beings are unique in being capable of experiencing and negotiating violence and trauma.
Lauren Cullen is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Oxford. She
received her BA (Honours) and MA from Queen’s University, Canada. Her dissertation explores
nonhuman and human animal kinship as well as animal subjectivity in Victorian fiction. Her
research interests include literature and science, animal rights, animal studies, and sensation
The Multiple “Lives” of Nature Documentary
From the influence of Erasmus Darwin’s “amatorial botanics” in The Loves of the Plants (1789), to the courtship rituals of laboratory films like Huxley’s The Private Life of The Gannets (1934), and the progressive gender politics of Jean Painlevé’s The Love Life of the Octopus (1967), the nature documentary shapes our spectatorship as eavesdroppers on the intimate science of secret lives/loves. Latter-day documentaries such as Life on Earth (1979), Trials of Life (1990), Life in Cold Blood (2008), Life (2009), and Life Story (2014) also remind us of the play inherent in the story of ‘life’ – as both a marker of the deeply private, uniquely held experience, and as a name for the widest of environmental processes. The nature documentary doubles these meanings into a personal and public life-writing of the Earth – a kind of surveillance of the clandestine encounters of both self and world. This paper will explore the nature documentary as a technology that can carry multiple “life” meanings, as well as life forms. I will explore these crossing contours of life writing and science writing to show how the (zoo-)biographical acts of nature documentary collide and cross-contaminate across this unstable signifier.
Dr. Amy Cutler is a cultural geographer, film-maker, and live performer who works with ideas of geography and nonhuman others. Her writing often draws on unsettling ideas of nature by ‘hacking’ or resetting original source narratives and pedagogical voices, from radio to nineteenth century science textbooks, including her recent Oh What Monsters tour of insect femme fatales, with French pianist and composer Delphine Dora. She also curates the international touring concert NATURE’S NICKELODEONS, which uses live cinema projection, re-scoring and performance to investigate the ways in which public concepts of nature are produced by social screening practices; this has premiered as a special event at Sheffield Doc/Fest (2018) and at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (2018). Her recent work includes a collaboration with data artist Anna Ridler and musician Leafcutter John, in which a neural network trained on romance novels reinterprets the ‘birds and the bees’ of original Disney nature documentary footage; the resulting film, ‘All Her Beautiful Green Remains In Tears’, has been installed at BBC Broadcasting House (2018) and at Somerset House Studios (2018). Cutler currently lectures on animalities in the Visual Cultures department at Goldsmiths University.
The Animal Worlds of Saki
Animals feature prominently in the short stories of the modern British writer H. H. Munro
(pen-name Saki). Being generally read as satirical critique of Edwardian society, Saki’s
stories are populated with all kinds of animals—free-roaming hyenas, domesticated
companion species, as well as livestock and zoo animals. Nevertheless, Saki’s oeuvre has
only received marginal scholarly attention over the years and, if addressed by literary critics,
is mostly regarded through the lens of social satire. From this focal point, the animals of
Saki’s stories are regarded as an externalisation of the beastliness of (especially upper-class) human society, a mirror reflecting human animality back at readers, an attempt to make visible the restrictions of social order through the creation of a “vindictive zoology” (Salemi
430). While I would not venture so far as to claim that Saki’s stories present a straightforward proto-critique of anthropocentrism or speciesism, I would argue that the relations of co-existence between humans and animals in the short stories are much more complex than generally acknowledged. Thus, for example, The Music on the Hill presents a contrast between the power of nature and the alienation experienced in modern society, and The Stalled Ox can be read as a critique of the commodification of animals for material gains and a comment about an emergent meat industry replacing the hunting games of the English gentry. In this paper, I want to investigate this complexity by paying attention to the intersections between nonhuman animals, humanity and emergent cultural discourses around Darwinism, psychoanalysis and Marxism.
Julia Ditter is a Master student in British and North American Cultural Studies at the
University of Freiburg. She has recently finished her final thesis entitled “Debatable Lands:
Border Dynamics in Contemporary British Nature Writing”. Moreover, she is currently
working on an article entitled “Human into Animal: Post-Anthropomorphic Transformations
in Sarah Hall’s ‘Mrs Fox’” which will be published in Borders and Border Crossings in
British Short Stories of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Barbara Korte and Laura Lojo-
Rodríguez (forthcoming). Her research interests include ecocriticism, border studies, animal
studies, feminism, as well C20 and C21 British literature.
Dog Boys and Dog Men: Stray Dogs and the Posthuman
Though penned by authors from around the world—USSR, UK, and Australia—Mikhail
Bulgakov’s The Heart of a Dog (1925, 1968), Nick Abadzis’s Laika (2007), and Eva Hornung’s
Dog Boy (2010) are all set in the same place: Russia. Though they span nearly a century, they all
follow essentially the same plot: stray dogs, or in the case of Dog Boy, stray dog figures, are
removed from the street and used for the sake of science. Sharik in The Heart of a Dog is lured
by a scientist to undergo a brain transplant; Laika is netted by dogcatchers to go on to become a
famous Soviet space dog; and Puppy, one of the two dog boys in Dog Boy, is seized by the
militzia to go on to be studied for the origins of what makes us human. The reader is enjoined to
sympathize with the piteous existence of life on the street: Sharik is scalded by a cook, Laika is
thrown by a cruel boy into the river, and the stray dogs with whom the dog boys cohabit undergo
recurrent exterminations by the authorities. If stray dogs live wretched lives on the street, they
are treated even worse in the name of science, and all three novels provide detailed descriptions
of their experiences. This chapter further addresses the pathos that is present in them, and how
that pathos is heightened as readers witness the dogs’ becoming unwitting posthuman subjects in the name of science. It considers how the factors of the writers’ nationalities and the different
eras of the novels—early, mid-, and post-Soviet—shape three books which are located in such
similar settings and which follow such similar narrative trajectories.
Jeanne Dubino is a professor of English and Global Studies at Appalachian State University in
North Carolina. She has also been a visiting assistant professor of literature and Women’s
Studies at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey; a Fulbright Scholar/Researcher at Egerton
University in Njoro, Kenya; and a Fulbright Specialist at Northeastern University in Shenyang.
Some of her most recent publications include the edited volume Virginia Woolf and the Literary
Marketplace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); the coedited Representing the Modern Animal in
Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), Virginia Woolf: Twenty-First-Century Approaches
(Edinburgh University Press, 2014), Politics, Identity, and Mobility in Travel Writing
(Routledge, 2015), and The Edinburgh Companion to Virginia Woolf and Contemporary Global
Literature (forthcoming; Edinburgh University Press, 2019); and essays, articles, and reviews on
travel, Woolf, and Animal Studies. She is currently working on a book, Global Subjects on the
Move: Stray Dogs in Contemporary Global Literature.
Vivisection in Modernist and Popular Fiction, 1890-1945
This paper will re-evaluate critical work on the importance of biology in the modernist period in
the light of continuing vivisection debates. We might think of this period as a moment of defeat
or quiescence for anti-vivisectionist movements, especially after the First World War, but I will
argue that in fact intense debates about animal bodies and the ethics of scientific took place in
fiction of the day, both through metaphor and directly. Across the period I will examine, a re-
energised debate raged about the rightness of animal vivisection, exemplified particularly in the
Brown Dog affair (1903 - 1910) and the science emerging from it. Critics have occasionally
argued for the influence of the Brown Dog affair upon individual modernist authors’ practice: in
this paper I will take a wider, comparative survey across modern literature, including middle-
brow literature such as detective fiction. In the authors and texts I will examine as case studies,
including Dorothy Richardson’s Interim (1919), Dorothy L. Sayers’s Whose Body? (1923), Aldous
Huxley’s Those Barren Leaves (1925), John Cowper Powys’s Weymouth Sands (1934) and Agatha
Christie’s Curtain (composed during WWII) the animal cost of scientific progress is deliberately
highlighted. Piers Beirne (2018) has recently argued for a concept of ‘theriocide’ (the killing of
animals by humans) to sit alongside homicide through readings of animal executions, visual art
and modernist drama. In these texts, as I will show, each author’s representation of the
vivisecting scientist’s treatment of animals is shown to be an index of the scientist’s attitude
towards violence more generally, while animal rights and human rights (particularly in relation to
gender, class and race) are deliberately entangled, bringing concepts of homicide, theriocide,
experiment and euthanasia uncomfortably close together.
Katherine Ebury is Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her first
monograph, Modernism and Cosmology, appeared in 2014, and she is the co-editor (with Dr James
Alexander Fraser) of Joyce's Non-Fiction Writings: Outside His Jurisdiction, which appeared with
Palgrave in 2018. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Irish Studies Review, Joyce Studies
Annual, Journal of Modern Literature, and Society and Animals.
The Urban Wild Coyote Project: an immersive sound art installation exploring modern myths and ideological coverups
Kathryn Eddy will discuss her ongoing project, The Urban Wild Coyote Project, a sound
installation utilizing human voices, ambient sound, nonhuman animal sounds, and altered coyote
hunting callers to create an immersive, participatory environment; exploring the objectification
of animals and questioning the human-designed hierarchy that favors one animal’s voice over
another’s. Her work asks the viewer-listener to control and hear commodified voices that are
recorded and sold in order to lure coyotes to their deaths and to consider the patriarchal power
structure inherent to hunting culture. The piece strives to create empathy in the viewer-listener
by playing with the modernist technique of revisiting myths; taking inspiration from Native
American stories and critiquing modern myths that coyotes are “colonizing America’s
cities”—the latter myths being ideological coverups for the actual colonization of other species’ territories by humans.
Kathryn Eddy is an interdisciplinary artist who uses painting, drawing, collage, photography,
sculpture, writing, and immersive sound installation to explore the complexities of the
animal/human-animal relationship. As an activist against racism, domestic violence, and animal
abuse, her work explores linked oppressions and examines the patriarchal power structure that
perpetuates them. She co-founded ArtAnimalAffect, an artist coalition dedicated to bridging art
and activism within the field of critical animal studies. Through artwork, research and writing,
their aim is to raise awareness of animal issues and examine the social, political and ethical
dimensions of human-animal relationships. Her immersive sound installations include often
forgotten animals and their troubled and often abusive relationship with human animals. Her
work has been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad.
Throwing Shapes: James Joyce’s Morphing Women
‘Jim says he has an instinct for women…He talks of them as of warm, soft-
skinned animals’ (The Complete Dublin Diary of Stanislaus Joyce, p.15)
In the Modernist literary context, the term ‘metamorphosis’ elicits immediate
associations with Franz Kafka’s novella The Metamorphosis (1915) in which the
protagonist, a (presumably Jewish) travelling salesman, Gregor Samsa, awakens
one morning to discover that he has transformed into a bug.
Undoubtedly aware of and influenced by Otto Weininger’s infamous treatise,
Geschlecht und Charakter (1903) – which denied morality, autonomy and the
capacity for genius in both women and Jews - and the posthumously published
aphorisms, Uber die Letzten Dinge (1904), Joyce rejects and overturns
Weininger’s essentialist rhetoric of projected self-hatred.
From the ‘bird girl’ and ‘bat-like soul’ of A Portrait of the Artist, to the ‘cold
nightsnake’ of Giacomo Joyce and the feminised Bloom in ‘Circe’, this paper will
explore how, through metamorphosis – a shifting of form or maturing to
adulthood – many of James Joyce’s female (and feminine) characters represent
both [wo]man and nation intent on liberation.
Dr. Caroline Elbay lectures at Champlain College Dublin (a
satellite campus of Champlain College, Burlington, VT.) and
CEA Study Abroad (Dublin), where she teaches courses in Irish
literature; Academic Writing; Popular Culture & Irish Identity;
and Irish music. She has also taught on the ALBA Modular
degree programme at All Hallows College (Dublin City
University), where she is a member of both the Programme
Board and Exam Board; and on the Intergenerational Learning
Programme at Dublin City University. Caroline is the co-
founder and facilitator of a life long learning programme at the
Dublin James Joyce Centre.
A graduate of St. Patrick's College (Dublin City University)
Caroline was awarded a PhD. by Queen’s University Belfast,
where her thesis (‘Joyce, Bloom, Sex and Character: A
Comparative Study’) focused on representations of gender, anti-
feminism, and anti-Semitism in the works of James Joyce and
Surrealist Magic: Woman and her Cosmic Cat
This paper intersects itself among the late academic acknowledgment of female Surrealists,
focusing specifically on Leonora Carrington’s and Remedios Varo’s visual fascination with feline
imagery. Within such feline/feminine artistic imaginings, Carrington and Varo transformed the
misogynistic dialogues of Surrealism, re-defining the confines of the ‘idealised’ passive-female-
mannequin. This paper shall explore the ways in which the two women’s unique sisterhood, founded in Mexico, interrogated the mutilation of the female body by their male Surrealist counterparts. Through the artistic conversations between Carrington and Varo, infused with feline imagery, the power of woman’s bodily fragmentation was kept within the female artists hands. The cat is an unquestionable surreal companion - a flaneur- occupying multiple co-existing identities. This paper delves into the surrealist woman’s ‘other dimensions’, through exploring the animal imagery of the feline, used to represent the multiplicity of woman’s identity as creative, transformative and most significantly, independent. I shall argue that Carrington and Varo interwove the female body alongside a feline companion, as both a witness and as a sisterly-force for the access of cosmic and occult transformation, and how their art can be positioned alongside Helen Cixous and Simone De Beauvoir’s feminist interrogation of the construction of ‘femininity’. I shall posit that Carrington and Varo created a new self-proliferating dialogue of ethereal feline sensuality.
Current Film, Exhibition and Curation MA student. The University of Edinburgh.
• 1st Class English Literature BA. The University of Exeter. 2015-2018
• Co-founder of WomenSurrealists: a collaborative online project run by two graduates from The
University of Exeter University, aiming to increase recognition and a celebration of women surrealists
and their modern legacies.
• Art Curator for Poltimore Festival 2018.
Can Flush Count?: Virginia Woolf and animality—and/in/by Numbers
'Can Flush Count?' The short answer is 'Yes—But, in more ways than one!' This paper counts some of the ways, and after much calculation concludes with the numerical answer: '555'. The historical, lived dog, Flush, companion of the poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, given to her by Mary Russell Mitford, and the subject of Virginia Woolf's novel Flush: A Biography (1933) was apparently taught to count: 'It is amusing to see him stir his little head at "two" & then correct himself—and still more amusing to observe how, at every unqualified success, he turns round & looks at Arabel for applause.' But this parlour game is possibly the least interesting aspect of this paper's investigation into numbers and animality in Woolf's best-selling but least critically scrutinised novel. This paper considers canine counting and Woolf's own recorded suspicion of measuring—'Who shall measure the heat and violence of a poet's heart when caught and tangled in a woman's body?'—in relation to Derrida's dictum 'Counting is a bad procedure' to argue that Flush: A Biography, Woolf's much neglected ground-breaking work on animality, really does count.
Jane Goldman is a Reader in English Literature at the University of Glasgow and a General Editor of the Cambridge University Press edition of the works of Virginia Woolf. Her books include The Feminist Aesthetics of Virginia Woolf (1998), The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf (2006), With you in the Hebrides: Virginia Woolf and Scotland (2013), and Modernism, 1910-1945: Image to Apocalypse (Palgrave, 2004). She is editor of Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and co-editor of A Room of One’s Own and Flush: A Biography for Cambridge, and is currently writing a book, Virginia Woolf and the Signifying Dog. She is also a poet, and her poems have appeared in Gutter, Scree, Blackbox Manifold, Tender and other magazines, and her first slim volume is Border Thoughts (2014).
Bears, Beasts and Bulls in Djuna Barnes
In an article for the New York Press in February 1915 Barnes visits the Hippodrome
Circus and, in her account of her visit, significantly focuses on the performing circus
animals, presenting elephants as “chorus-girls” and bears “swaying to an invisible
choir”. In this paper I will examine the way that Barnes presents the figure of the
performing animal as a mimic, physically enacting the anthropomorphism that makes
them intelligible but also necessarily relegates them to the realm of animal existence.
But, as Barnes reveals, the performing animal both fails in its mimicking (it is not a
human nor civilised) and exposes the duality that captures it as Other to the human.
As I will consider in this paper, with such figures as the dancing bear, the bulls and
fantastic beasts in Ryder (1928), and the inscripted animals of her bestiary,
Creatures in an Alphabet (1982), Barnes examines how humanity has always and
only had nature as fabricated and deployed by culture and that, importantly for
modernism, evolution has not safely delivered the human to civilization. Barnes’
vision of a beastly modernism, which transgresses the human structures of
intelligibility, extends across her oeuvre, and I will argue that the transgressions of
Barnes’ beastly modernism reconfigure the experience of being human in a profound
way, challenging normative assumptions about an anthropocentric universe.
Alex Goody is Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture at Oxford
Brookes University. Her publications included Modernist Articulations: A Cultural
Study of Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy and Gertrude Stein (2007), Technology, Literature
and Culture (2011), Machine Amusements: Modernist Poetry, Gender and Leisure
Technologies (2019) and the co-edited collection Reading Westworld (2019).
Envying the beasts: Leonor Fini’s hybridity
In 1975, looking back over her career, the artist, designer, and writer Leonor Fini (1907-
“I have always thought that human attributes are quite reduced, quite limited. I have
always envied the beasts, their hard, adequate claws, their resonant hooves, their
sparkling, phosphorescent scales, their deep coat[s], but especially their horns”
(Fini, 1975: 44).
This is no idle musing; Fini’s work is full of human-animal (and fish) hybrids, some of them
caught in the very act of transformation.
Fini is most often thought of as a Surrealist, though she herself did not identify as such, and
this use of the human-animal also appeared amongst both her male and female Surrealist
peers. However, the variety of Fini’s hybrids, their appearance in all areas of her oeuvre, and
her own embodiments of a beastly identity in real life sets her apart. In repeatedly returning
to the hybrid, Fini’s work ultimately raises questions about the unstable nature of
subjectivity and the boundaries of the human body, which tie into feminist and post-human
concepts of identity.
Concentrating primarily on her art and design, this paper will explore a range of Fini’s
beastly hybrids, including the sphinx, the bird-woman, and the horned woman. In doing so I
aim to demonstrate the various ways in which Fini advocated a concept of selfhood that is in
continual, metamorphic flux.
Rachael Grew is a Lecturer in art history and visual culture at Loughborough University. Her
research explores bodily manifestations of gender, hybridity, and fluid identities, particularly
in the work of Leonor Fini. She has published a range of essays and articles on Fini’s
scenographic designs, as well as on gender issues within Surrealism more broadly. Rachael is
currently working towards a monograph on Fini’s use of repeated motifs across the various
aspects of her oeuvre.
Possum and Basilisk: Animal Disguise and Revelation in Modernist Letters
My paper will address zoomorphic play and life-writing in letters among the modernists,
focusing on the name-play and game-play in the letters of two of the figureheads of American
modernist poetry: T.S. Eliot and Marianne Moore (with two others, Ezra Pound and H.D.,
lurking in the background). This is part of a larger culture of animal nick-names in twentieth-
century literature (of which both H.D. and Bryher, but also Winston Churchill and Philip Larkin
were part). It casts a strange light on the zoological imagination of these literary modernists, as
well as their taste for zoomorphic personae. Marianne Moore, with D.H. Lawrence whose animal
poetry she admired, is one of the most systematically zoological of modern (or modernist)
writers, while Eliot, an admirer of Moore, in alluding to ‘apeneck Sweeney’ and ‘Christ the tiger’,
is also obliquely invested in revisiting the relation of human and animal she makes her peculiar,
distinctively ‘queer’ speciality.
My paper will explore what the playfulness of their letters might tell us about the play of
language and representations of animals in their poetry, as well as their attitudes towards
personality and impersonality, human and animal, voice and audience, revelation and disguise.
Focusing on the self-shaping but also shape-shifting of their letters, I want to discuss the
relationship between what the Marx brothers called animal crackers and poetic and biographical
identity in two of the great shape-changers of modern poetry.
JOHN C. HAWKINS
Strange and Friendly Beasts: The Politics of Animal Companionship in Sherwood Anderson’s “The Man who Became a Woman” and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
In response to this conference’s call for papers that deal with modernity as a period of
intense focus on what it means to live with animals, this presentation draws attention to the
bonds in modern U.S. fiction between humans and the horses, mules, and other working
creatures that share labor and affective space with them. As Derek Ryan has demonstrated in his
reading of Flush as a companion species narrative, modern literature’s careful examinations of
interiority and personal connection provide powerful examples of Donna Haraway’s concept of
humans “becoming-with” other animals in meaningful formations of power that defy clean
notions of dominance and ownership while also refusing easy narratives of pure unproblematic
While British modernism offers its own menagerie of animal engagements, this paper
turns to modern American literature to find relational animals holding affective signicance at
critical power junctures, especially in regional fiction. Threading Haraway’s concerns with
relationality through Brian Massumi’s Politics of Affect, I highlight the dynamics of power at
play in Sherwood Anderson’s “The Man Who Became a Woman” and Zora Neale Hurston’s
Their Eyes Were Watching God. The former establishes a deep, otherworldly bond between a
stable hand and the horses he cares for in the context of a queerly modern confession of gender
exchange, while the latter treats the town mule as an object of communal liberation from abused worker to citizen. Both texts, however, locate repression and exclusion at these very same sites,
exposing their multivalent nature. These readings suggest that “beastly modernisms” bring
increased legibility to a wide range of modernist texts even as they reveal radical and dynamic
power relations at work (and play) in the textual bodies of human and non-human animals alike.
John C. Hawkins is completing his PhD in English with a concentration in Women’s and Gender
Studies at Loyola University Chicago, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Writing
Center. He is currently developing a dissertation on the political nature of affective relationships
with companion animals such as horses and dogs in U.S. 20 th century fiction and media.
The Authenticities of the Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse
The images of Eileen Agar’s Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse have a range of dates spanning from the late 1930s to 1995, when it arrived in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection. In each of these images, however, the hat never looks the same. The hat’s life, very much like that of the artist’s, evolved over time. I argue that even though this inverted cork basket adorned with both natural and manmade décor features different elements in each photograph, it remains the same work of art; retaining what is essential, what Benjamin calls its aura. Its identity and authority remain intact.
Christy Heflin is a Paris-based PhD researcher working on Surrealism and marine life at Royal
Holloway University of London. She completed her master’s degree in photographic
conservation research at Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne and holds a Bachelor of Arts from
Louisiana State University where she researched the early twentieth-century art residence,
In Defense of Pigeons
Marianne Moore’s 1935 poem “Pigeons” captures the contradictory nature of this most beloved and most hated of birds. “Older than the ancient Greeks” yet with “a surprising modernness”; “[m]igrating always” yet attached to its home; thriving in most places yet with particular species endangered or extinct—the pigeon is a bird with a thousand faces. Moore’s ode to the Columbidae praises the birds’ beauty and marvelous homing abilities, but not everyone felt the same way. The 1930s, as Colin Jerolmack has documented, is the decade in which the pigeon’s reputation as a dirty nuisance animal emerged, especially in cities like New York and London. During World War II, Britain awarded several carrier pigeons the Dickin Medal for their service as messengers, but by the 1950s wild pigeons were largely seen as carriers only of dirt and disease. They came to be stigmatized alongside the poor immigrant city dwellers who fed and sometimes bred them. In 1966, a parks commissioner coined the epithet that has dogged the birds ever since: “rats with wings.”
In this talk I want to briefly survey the role of the pigeon in twentieth-century literature, homing in on Moore’s poem but also flitting over Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi (1940), Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956), Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Pigeons” (1970), and Karen Tei Yamashita’s Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990). Literary pigeons are metonymies for many themes we associate with modernist culture: urban life, cosmopolitanism, anti-imperialism, mobility, global networks of circulation, and the precarity of nonhuman life under a capitalist regime of growth. Today, we understand ourselves to be living in the Anthropocene. Pigeon virtues—adaptability, resilience, a strong sense of home—might help us think about how to live better with human and nonhuman others in this rapidly changing world.
Caroline Hovanec is Assistant Professor of English and Writing at the University of Tampa. Her recent book Animal Subjects: Literature, Zoology, and British Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 2018) identifies a new understanding of animal subjectivity in literary and scientific writings of the early twentieth century. Currently she is working on a book project entitled “Detestable Creatures,” which examines the rhetoric and aesthetics of vermin in modernist and contemporary world literature.
Troubling the Boundary: Imagining the Nonhuman in Ulysses
Joyce’s Dublin is perhaps one of the greatest evocations of a multispecies landscape
within the city. Joyce not only deeply engages with the ubiquity of nonhumans, their
products and their lives within the metropolis, but also their relationship to histories of
the Irish famine and colonialism. Through descriptions of nonhuman suffering, Joyce
creates a compelling creaturely awareness which reflects not only the condition of
animals in 20 th Century Ireland but also the state of the nation. The ghostly, tortured
bodies of beasts remind us of the lethal treatment of Ireland’s people.
And yet, this description of Joyce’s nonhuman is perhaps reductive
considering his complex construction of a nonhuman imaginary within the text.
Animals in Ulysses are not simply the symbols of a traumatised nation. Indeed, a far
more nuanced and densely crafted account of Dublin’s nonhuman population is
offered as we are invited to gaze into and through the eyes of the animal. The forays
the novel offers into animal experience are not simply an imaginative exercise in
“experiencing” the animal. Indeed, this analysis will argue that they constitute an
ethical engagement with the nonhuman, ultimately troubling the boundary between
human and animal.
Proceeding from the works of theorists including David Rando, Peter Adkins,
JM Coetzee and Carol J. Adams, this paper will explore Joyce’s troubling of the
human-nonhuman boundary with a view to ascertaining how a Joycean ethics of the
animal can be identified in Ulysses and, furthermore, how we read these in the
current climate of nonhuman studies and the “animal turn”.
Rory Hutchings obtained both his BA and MA in English and Literary Studies respectively at Goldsmiths, University of London. His academic interests centre around trans-Atlantic Modernism, animal studies, regional modernisms in the works of Beckett, Woolf and the "Sussex modernists" and critical ecologies in contemporary American literature.
Pest Control as Modernisation: Anti-rat Stalinist Propaganda in Poland
In my talk I present a rhetorical analysis of rat control programs in Stalinist Poland as an
example of the entanglements between the biological and the political within the
modernization discourse. I analyze how dominant political narratives influenced pest control
and sanitary programs and how the biological shaped, challenged or hindered political
As I am to demonstrate, most early postwar anti-rat materials symbolically deprived these
rodents of their animality by attributing to them human features and present in a figure of
an enemy. Although an intensification of rat control campaign in the turn of 1950s can be
explained by their population's sharp increase during the war period, the convergence of the
anti-rat propaganda with political purges at the same time, as well as strategic and rhetorical
resemblances between these two operations, do not seem coincidental. As creatures posing
considerable threat both to public health (vectors of disease) and national economy (‘crafty
thieves') rats can be perceived as embodiments of challenges to be confronted by the Polish state devastated during the war. Propaganda materials from Stalinist times explicitly
emphasize the presence of rat populations in neglected areas as a touchstone of
backwardness and underdevelopment, making rats (or rather, their absence) a gauge of
modernization processes. I argue that the dynamics of post-war rat control programs can be
examined as a constant struggle between human and non-human (or, the cultural and the
biological) in pursuit of modernist ‘purification’ (Latour, 1993) and as such can cast new light on modernization and sanitation processes in Poland.
Gabriela Jarzębowska is a PhD candidate at the faculty of Artes Liberales, University of
Warsaw and a Fulbright Fellow at the Wesleyan University (supervisor: Kari Weil) as well as
National Science Centre's (NCN) grantee. In 2016 she developed her research project as a
Junior Visiting Scholar at the Seedbox Mistra-Formas Environmental Humanities
Collaboratory based at the Linköping University, Sweden (supervisor: Cecilia Ǻsberg). She
works on human-animal studies, critical animal studies and environmental humanities,
focusing mostly on relations between human and non-human others that are perceived as
problematic and/or undesirable. In her PhD thesis entitled "Species Cleansing. Rat
Eradication as a Cultural Practice" (supervisors: Ewa Domańska, Andrzej Elżanowski) she
examines material, linguistic and visual practices shaping our perception of urban rats, in
order to analyze cultural codes which organize, strengthen and sustain symbolic status and
negative stereotypes of this species. She believes that in the context of global environmental
crisis, the humanities must take a stand and develop new methods of analysis aimed at
rethinking humans' place in the world, as well as propose theoretical models for constructive
solutions to bring about change.
The Minotaur and Modern Empire
George Frederic Watts’s Minotaur (1885) differs from the many versions of Pablo
Picasso’s. In the eyes of its contemporary critics, Watts had painted a polemic against the
“Maiden Tributes” of London—child prostitution that caused an outcry that year. The painting,
then, is a paragon of Victorian visual didacticism. A beastly creature awaits its sacrifices from
Athens, a city subjugated by Crete and forced to send its children to the Minotaur in his
labrinyth. An 1887 viewer of Watts’s painting called it a “brutal, cruel, and irresponsible power,
an embodied Force without pity,” citing the “cold stare of his ravenous eye.” A later writer tells
of the creature’s “savage eyes” and “hungry mouth,” and another identifies its mostly English
viewers as Theseus, who might wish to slay the creature in the name of “High Greek
And yet Watts’s creature is no evil monster, but a sad beast who casts a pensive glance
across a hazy sea. There is a silence embedded in this difference between the painting and its
reception. This silence, I argue, holds the weight of the British Empire. In this paper, I compare
the Minotaur to the ambivalent descriptions of John Bull in nineteenth-century Britain. John
Bull—the symbol of England—was the imperial villain of the Tasmanian poet John Lewin’s The
Minotaur! (1849), and made an appearance in Percy Shelley’s Swellfoot the Tyrant (1820) as a
Minotaur hybrid, an engine of the state. These and other examples critique empire from within. I
wonder, then, what is gained from envisioning a silently pathetic empire at its center, wrought in
bestiality and shame. This is an empire of inheritance and invisible violence, one that embodies
the terms of Derrida’s Beast and Sovereign. Victorian artists like Watts are bracketed out of
modernist art histories. In this paper, then, I situate Watts in a modernity of beastly politics,
towards what T.J. Clark has called the accidental “contingency” of modern painting. It is less an
insular story of 1880s London, and more a picture in proleptic dialogue with Picasso’s modern
Ariel Kline is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University.
She is interested in animal studies, the monstrous, queer studies, and the visual history of the
Beastly Butterflies: Sexual Nature in Sexology and Modern Dance
Butterflies are rarely described as beastly. In this paper, however, I want to argue that Loïe
Fuller’s ‘Butterfly Dance’, performed in Paris and elsewhere around 1900, brings out
precisely ‘beastly’ qualities via the figure of the butterfly: transgression, disturbance and
sexual perversity. Not only does the figure of the butterfly bring out these unseen beastly
qualities of Fuller’s pioneering modern dance, but in the metamorphosis performed on
stage it also represents the essence of modernism as transformation.
In this talk, I want to explore how ideas about the sexually ‘normal’ and ‘natural’ were co-
constructed by German sexological discourses and dance after 1900 via butterflies, both
literal and figurative. Drawing on literature and science studies and queer and feminist
theoretical approaches to nature and non-human animals, the talk investigates the work of
the German-Jewish sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and his interest in butterflies, both as
model organisms for scientific study to prove the ‘intersexuality’ of all living things, and as
artistic representations in the form of the Butterfly Dance. This Butterfly Dance was
pioneered by the American dancer Loïe Fuller (1862 – 1928) and adapted by the Welsh
aristocrat Henry Cyril Paget (1875 – 1905), the 5 th Marquis of Anglesey. Following Fuller’s
and Paget’s performances of the Butterfly Dance, this talk investigates how both
performances explore concepts of sexual nature via the figure of the butterfly. I argue that
both performances express a version of sexual nature that does not offer a pastoral vision of
naturalised sexuality, but instead show an alternative vision of sexual nature, one that is
transgressive, disturbing and perverse and uniquely a product of modernist interventions
into the sexually ‘normal’ and ‘natural’. Finally, I argue that this competing vision of sexual
nature influences Magnus Hirschfeld’s sexological work, which turns towards butterfly
experiments to understand natural sexual variation.
Dr Ina Linge is Associate Research Fellow in the College of Humanities at the University of
Exeter, where she is also affiliated with the Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Rethinking Sexology’
project. She holds a PhD in German from the University of Cambridge. Ina has published
articles on fin-de-siècle and modernist literature and culture and the inter-dependence of
sexology and cultural productions, such as autobiography and film. Ina’s current project
investigates the meaning of ‘sexual nature’. Specifically, this research project considers the
importance of the non-human, in particular non-human animal evidence and the
representation of non-human animals, within the context of sexological discourses, visual
culture and performance in German-speaking countries and Britain after 1900.
Letters for a Newfoundland Dog: A Creative and Zoopoetic Response to Woolf’s Flush and Barrie’s Peter Pan Texts
When Derrida found himself standing naked before his little cat, he knew he
was in the presence not of the allegorical animal of Western philosophical and
literary traditions, but of someone capable of responding to and looking back at him.
But can we say that Derrida’s call for specificity has been heard over the chorus of
positivist values such as objectivity, behaviourism, and fear of anthropomorphism
that limit even the literary-critical branch of animal studies?
Derrida coined the term ‘zoopoetics,’ but only recently has it become both a
critical methodology and creative practice interested in how attentiveness to the
poiesis of nonhuman animals enlightens human creative forms (Aaron Moe). It
embraces embodied empathy, emotion, and subjective experience – as well as the
curiousity Donna Haraway describes as the first duty of companion species – as
valuable resources for interspecies interaction and collaboration, and therefore
valuable sites for critical engagement.
In this creative paper, I apply a zoopoetic methodology to Virginia Woolf’s
Flush, and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Peter and Wendy, by placing memoir alongside
critical analysis. I locate in these texts what Etienne Benson calls “embodied traces”
of the nonhuman animal by comparing their representation of dogs with
biographical material about Woolf’s spaniel Pinka and Barrie’s dogs Porthos and
Luath. Though engaged in the modernist task of interrogating the boundaries of the
human, Woolf and Barrie are also interested in what Erica Fudge calls the “animal as
animal.” Neither author simply uses the dog as an allegorical tool for social
commentary. The categories of lady’s lapdog in Woolf, and man’s working-breed dog
in Barrie, are deconstructed to reveal how gender and class influence the
overlapping lived and bodily experience of both humans and their domesticated
companion species. I include personal reflections on my relationship with my own
Newfoundland dog to illuminate the ways in which writing and reading about
animals is reciprocal with actual interspecies interactions. Therefore, zoopoetics is
of practical significance to the field of animal studies, which, as Cary Wolfe suggests,
is burdened with questions of ethics, vulnerability, and action.
Cameo Marlatt is a recent graduate of the University of Glasgow, with a Doctorate of
Fine Arts in Creative Writing, for which she wrote a series of essays and a collection
of poetry on the topics of Companion Species and Zoopoetics. She also has an MSc in
Literature and Modernity from the University of Edinburgh. Her poetry has been
published in Lighthouse, Plumwood Mountain, and Canary.
‘Height of a tower? No, she can jump me’: The feline presence in Ulysses
Frank Budgen notes that James Joyce ‘had a considerable sympathy for the cat with its
persuasive manners and its compact self-sufficiencies’. Joyce kept and observed cats
while in Trieste, Zurich, and Paris, with a photograph of 1913 showing Giorgio and
Lucia at the window of their Trieste flat, a cat embraced in Lucia’s arms. The
attentiveness to feline behavior and the cat's place in the Bloom family in Ulysses is thus
drawn from Joyce’s own observations of and cohabitation with this animal. Critically, the
turn of the twentieth century saw an epistemological shift in the knowledge of the
animal’s place in Irish society, with an increased presence of animals in the home. This
created a bifurcation of domestic animals into those kept as companions and those kept
for utilitarian purposes. My paper examines the trace of this dynamic bifurcation in the
relation of Leopold Bloom to his cat, and therefore offers a counterpoint to David
Rando’s 2009 essay ‘The Cat’s Meow: “Ulysses”, Animals, and the Veterinary Gaze’. It
situates the animal gaze of Bloom in its socio-economic context, in contrast to Rando’s
notion of the ‘veterinary gaze’. Further, I borrow ideas from the philosophy of Jacques
Derrida and John Berger to argue that this social reconfiguration of animal-human
relations allows Bloom’s cat to be read as a substitute for his dead son, Rudy. This idea is explicated through an anthrozoological reading – this being the science of animal-
human relations – to explore the nexus of associations between the cat and Rudy in Bloom’s psyche, which provides an insight into the often overlooked issue of the tripartite structure of Ulysses. I suggest that my reading offers a new way to explore this structure through the lens of deconstructing the animal-human divide, prompting the reader towards the limits of the human. My paper thus historicizes the integration of pets into the family unit in ways that disturb anthropocentrism and the anthropomorphic gaze.
Jonathan McAllister is an M.Phil student at Jesus College, Cambridge. He holds a First-
class honours degree in English from the University of Nottingham, where he received a
number of awards for his work. Currently, he is working on a thesis at the University of
Cambridge that examines Samuel Beckett’s directorial style, drawing on theories of
performance and dramaturgy.
A young gorilla meets the modernists Djuna Barnes, Eugenie Shonnard, and Eli Harvey
Tracy McDonald tells the story of Dinah, a young Gabonese gorilla who arrived at the New
York Zoological Park on 24 August 1914. She quickly became a celebrity. Her first brush with
fame was a meeting with modernist writer Djuna Barnes, who published her interview with
Dinah, “The Girl and the Gorilla,” in New York World magazine. Barnes’s piece touched on the
questions that modernism brought to human-nonhuman encounters, including social relations,
gender, capitalism, and shifting identities. Commissioned to sculpt a bust of Dinah, Eugenie
Shonnard gave a revealing interview about the time they spent together. McDonald’s paper
focuses on the encounters between these modernist artists and the captive gorilla, exploring their
implications for understanding empathy. Dinah’s story engages with several “Beastly Modernist”
themes, including: Animal Commodification and Capitalism; Race, Class, Sex and Gender;
Wildlife, Imperialism and Hunting; and Animal Trauma.
Tracy McDonald is an associate professor of Russian and Soviet history at McMaster University.
She is the author of Face to the Village: The Riazan Countryside Under Soviet Rule, 1921-1930,
published by University of Toronto Press. Currently, she is working on a history of animal
import-export and exhibition in the USSR and a biography of Dinah (1911-1915) a captive
gorilla. Her co-edited collection Zoo Studies: A New Humanities (McGill-Queens University
Press) will be available in May 2019.
‘Earlier and Other: Marine Life in Modernist Writing’
Modernist writing teems with marine life: Pound’s delicate algae; Joyce’s unsightly oysters;
Woolf’s immortal fish; Eliot’s barnacle-encrusted crab; Marianne Moore’s paper nautilus;
H.D.’s quivering rock pool specimen; Lawrence’s indifferent shoals – these are just a few of
the creatures that populate its waters. The radical otherness of these life forms troubles the
boundaries of modernist form; much has been said about the Men of 1914’s disdain for the
‘jellyfish attributes’ of the internal, stream-of-consciousness method with its associations
with degeneracy and feminine fluidity.
Yet if the apparent formlessness and categorical
instability of marine life posed a threat to modernist writers, then it also, to paraphrase
Elizabeth Grosz, inspired possibilities of being otherwise. This paper will explore H.D. and
Eliot’s mutual fascination with organisms that blur the boundaries between animal and
vegetable – polyps, anemones, hydrophytes, sponges – occupying, in the words of H. G.
Wells, Julian Huxley, and G. P. Wells, ‘a sort of no man’s land (or rather both man’s land)’
between the two.
Both writers detail formative encounters with aquatic life forms in their
work: Eliot spent his childhood summers staring into rockpools and collecting algae on the
Massachusetts coastline, while the young H.D. helped her grandfather, renowned phycologist
Francis Wolle, in the production of thousands of drawings of magnified diatoms. These ‘hints
of earlier and other creation’, I will argue, inspired H.D. and Eliot to recognise the creative
possibilities of formal indeterminacy and passive receptivity in their writing, exploring ways
of being that both precede and exceed humanist conceptions of the self as bounded, stable,
Rachel is a Doctoral Prize Fellow at Loughborough University with research interests in
literary modernism, animal studies, and the environment. She has published peer-reviewed
articles on James Joyce and bees, and Samuel Beckett’s worms, the latter of which won the
2016 British Society for Literature and Science Early Career Essay Prize and was published
in the Journal of Literature and Science. She has also published articles on D. H. Lawrence,
Wyndham Lewis, and Henry James, as well as a book chapter on insects in language and
literature. Her book, The Modernist Exoskeleton: Insects, War, Literary Form, is forthcoming
with Edinburgh University Press, and she is currently beginning a new research project,
provisionally entitled Submarine Modernism.
Excursions in the Night Side of Nature: Minotaurs and Other Surrealist Animals
In 1935, number 7 of the surrealist journal Minotaure was devoted to ‘Le Côté nocturne de la
nature’, the night side of nature. The theme extended the journal’s prevalent fascination with
mythological, speculative, and esoteric conceptions of animals and nature; yet, it also shows
that surrealism tends to exceed such symbolic projections. The contents page of the number in
question was adorned with a photograph by Man Ray of a woman’s naked upper body. Her
head obscured by darkness, the woman’s arms are lifted over it to form two horns, while
skilful use of shadows renders her torso into the visage of a bull. The issue also features many
photographs of animals, from owls to praying mantises. The latter illustrate Roger Caillois’s
essay ‘Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia’, which, much like Man Ray’s photograph,
investigate the mechanisms behind identity dissolution and the porous borders between
humans and other animals. In this paper, I seek to show that while the surrealists writing in
and illustrating Minotaure tend to connect loss of instrumental reason with the animal, rather
than demonstrating a view of animals as void of reason and agency, these connections suggest
intricate, interspecies relations. In an earlier issue of Minotaure the surrealist physician Pierre
Mabille wrote that humans and animals develop a shared visceral unconscious. Recalling
German psychology influenced by notions of animal magnetism, Mabille’s essay indicates
that it is precisely in its conceptions of the unconscious, no longer believed to be confined to
human interiority, that surrealism most effectively troubles the borders between humans and
other animals. In that spirit, I argue, Man Ray’s photograph does not so much designate a
headless eclipse of reason, as it imagines an overlapping of human and animal faculties,
which recurs throughout Minotaure and surrealism in general.
Kristoffer Noheden is Researcher in the Department of Media Studies, Stockholm University.
He is the author of Surrealism, Cinema, and the Search for a New Myth (2017), and a number
of articles and book chapters on surrealism in relation to ecology, film theory, and exhibition
history. He is co-editor with Abigail Susik of a volume in-progress, Absolutely Modern
Mysteries: Surrealism and Film after 1945, and with Grazina Subelyte and Daniel Zamani of
another volume in-progress on the topic of surrealism and mythology. Noheden’s current
book project concerns animals and ecology in surrealist art, film, and writings from 1919 to
Jumping Cats and Living Handkerchiefs: The Queer and Comic Non-Human World of Elizabeth Bowen’s Fiction
I propose discussing the Irish Modernism of Elizabeth Bowen’s fiction through the figure of the
non-human. The nonhuman, whether “animate” or “inanimate,” contributes to the distinct
humour and “queerness” of Bowen’s writing, affecting both form and content. Maud Ellmann
has observed of Bowen’s work that “every object has a psyche; in fact, her objects even have
neuroses,” while Carrie Rohman maintains that modernism is the first literature to “register” the
psychic eruption of “animality” through the fragmentation and discontinuity of “circuitous and
unstable narrative devices.” The appearance of animals in a text always introduces formal
instability and poses a potential threat to the illusion of human superiority and identity, often
through humiliation or comic deflation. The work of new materialists, such as Karen Barad, has
proposed more radical challenges to received ideas about human centrality by undermining
foundational divisions including the assumed separation between the animate and the inanimate,
“the human and its ‘others.’” Bowen has always disrespected this separation, and the
“queerness” that refuses such divisions, while insisting on difference, demonstrates just how
possible numerous impossibilities actually are, revising our understandings of, according to
Barad, “causality, matter, space and time.”
Impossibilities preoccupy Bowen, particularly those that obtain through the suspension
of “logic” and allow for contradictory realities to co-exist. Houses and objects in The Last
September manifest more liveliness than any of the novel’s human characters, liveliness conveyed
through unsettling figurative language, such as a doorway that “yearn[s] up the path like an eye-
socket,” or a piece of paper that creeps “on the floor like a living handkerchief.” The disavowed
and terrifying closeness of the human and the nonhuman animal also disturbs the complacencies
of Bowen’s characters. In her children’s book, The Good Tiger, rude, nosy neighbour Mrs Jones
can only express her terror at encountering a tiger at a birthday party by quacking, an unconscious acknowledgement of her position in the food chain as prey. The “pellucid, sane,”
and thoroughly modern, logical sophisticates of the story “The Cat Jumps,” also revert to their
animal selves with very little provocation. The vexed status of the animal in Irish culture,
whether it is the historic “bestialisation” of the “native” Irish, or the often derisory association of
the Anglo-Irish with dogs and horses, along with Bowen’s treatment of inanimate “others,” are
central to the unique Modernism of her fiction.
Maureen O’Connor lectures in the School of English in University College Cork. She is the
author of The Female and the Species: The Animal in Irish Women’s Writing as well as the editor and
co-editor of a number of volumes, including a recent special issue of the Canadian Journal of Irish
Studies on “Irish Studies and the Environmental Humanities.” She has published and delivered
keynote addresses around the world on the subject of the animal in Irish writing as well as other
relevant topics in ecocriticism and ecofeminism. She has recently completed a monograph on the
fiction of Edna O’Brien and is currently working on a book about vegetarianism, nationalism,
and Irish first-wave feminism, working title, Nation and Nature.
The fringes of Finnegans Wake are inhabited by all manner of creatures that are hidden in
portmanteau words, puns, and both literary and historical references. It is in this manner of
ever-presence yet marginalisation, as it were, that Joyce’s final work comes to resemble the
structure of medieval manuscripts, as ‘[b]y the thirteenth century […] the margins of [these]
manuscripts began to be populated with small animals in human parody’ (The Beast Within,
p.90). Joyce’s book, much like a medieval bestiary, contains a significant number of bizarre
animals; there are fabular beasts that sing and dance, animals that talk and act in so human
a manner that it is difficult to call them animals at all, and hybrid creatures that appear both
human and animal simultaneously. Given this parallel to medieval texts, this paper will focus
on a comparison between Royal MS 12 F XIII (also known as the Rochester Bestiary) and one
of the Wake’s most significant hybrids: the hen-woman Biddy Doran. Through this
comparison, accompanied by an application of Giambattista Vico’s theory on being human
(found in The New Science), I will argue that this tale of a hen resembles a medieval bestiary
entry, in which animals are used to teach humans how to be human.
Kate O’Donovan is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Royal Holloway, University of
London. Her thesis examines Joyce’s exploration of the division between human and non-
human animals in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Her other research interests include:
Object-Orientated Ontology, the plays of Howard Barker, and Animal Studies.
Vegetarianism and Modernist Self-Fashioning in the Writings of Edward Carpenter
The long career of English poet, essayist and socialist Edward Carpenter (1844-1929)
straddled the Victorian and Modernist epochs. His extensive body of work is indicative of the wider cultural radicalism that germinated and flourished during this tumultuous transition. Mirroring what Harriet Ritvo terms the ‘animal turn’ in the contemporary humanities, scholars such as Jed Mayer and Wendy Parks lend increasing scrutiny to Carpenter’s pro-animal politics. Compassion toward the nonhuman animal forms an underexplored component of the complex unitary metaphysic Carpenter expresses throughout his writing, whereby humanity must strive towards ‘cosmic consciousness,’ a recognition of man’s intrinsic unity with all phenomenal life. To do so, Carpenter contends, humanity must shed the restrictive trappings of bourgeois, hyper-industrial Victorian ‘civilisation’; this rejection of Victorian society in favour of a radical utopian future is, I argue, a characteristically Modernist impulse. In a 1909 address to the Vegetarian Society, Carpenter describes the ‘nineteenth century’ as the ‘nadir of descent into the inferno of civilisation,’ symptoms of which include ‘the eating of meat,’ a diet catalysed by industrial slaughter. Vegetarianism, by contrast, is spreading ‘with rapidity amongst modern populaces,’ embedding a sensitivity towards nature that precipitates ‘a new plane of life.’ (Vegetarianism p.316). This paper focusses on Carpenter’s practice of vegetarianism, exploring its role in his broader self-fashioning as a modern radical who rejected the rituals of Victorian gentility. Noting Carpenter’s aversion to the ‘ancient looking patriarchs’ associated with prominent vegetarian movements, I delineate two strategies he used for vegetarianism’s re- presentation. Firstly, in place of morality-based and animal-centred arguments for vegetarianism, Carpenter favoured an esoteric brand of contemporary nutritional science. Secondly, he candidly described his lapses in vegetarianism, in line with a vociferous objection to ‘absolute rule[s]’ for living. (Carpenter 1916, p.101). These strategies demonstrate the contested, ambiguous nature of Carpenter’s nonhuman politic, signposting the need for its further critical exploration.
Charlotte O’Neill is a first year PhD student in English Literature at the University of Sheffield.
Following on from previous research on the animal rights writing of late Victorian activist and writer
Edward Carpenter, their thesis interrogates his work in the broader context of the nonhuman.
‘Deeper within darkness’: animal reality, poetic representation, and the nested form of Ted Hughes’s ‘The Thought-Fox’
Ted Hughes is known for nature and ‘animal’ poems such as ‘The Thought-Fox’ (1957), but in his essay ‘Capturing Animals’ he emphasises that any poem can be ‘like an animal’. He thus foregrounds a certain animality of poetic form, to the expense of a certain animal ‘content’, as crucial both to the overall work of poetry but especially to the vital project of representing animal reality. I take him at his word and read his famous poem for two crucial animalistic (i.e. formal) aspects: the visual playfulness of the repeated letter w standing in for a fox paw print on the snow and, more importantly, his use of punctuation (the colon) as a tool to section the poem. I argue that the formal architectonics of the poem both perform and present a project of poetic representation that sets it apart from regular human experience. Crucially, this representational practice grants the human the ability to approach the other-than-human hard materiality of animals (the scriptural paw prints), and thus singles out poetry as necessary to maintain any ‘communion’ with nature. I argue that this polemics regarding the representation of nature, as well as the formal techniques and the manifesto-like character of ‘The Thought-Fox’, stems from a desire to renovate poetic language and mimesis against the background of both a modern estrangement from nature and the modernist crisis in the representational powers of language.
Rodolfo Piskorski holds a PhD in Critical and Cultural Theory from Cardiff University, Wales, where he is University Teacher in Portuguese. His research focuses on the interface between animality and textuality. His work has appeared in The Journal of Literary Theory, Humanimalia, and The Journal of Critical Animal Studies, among others.
Carceri: Piranesi’s Fanciful Images of Prisons.
An investigation into the space of the contemporary zoo.
Whilst I confess to a lifelong fascination with the zoos it was not until I met Piranesi in the British museum
and the very next week was confronted with an empty cage in the Tiergarten in Berlin, did I realize I was
looking at two versions of the same thing - an invented prison. Both were fantastical and frightening in
Zoological gardens draw crowds all over the world in many countries. The exhibition of wildlife in the midst
of civilized societies has been a constant of human history, because, suggests Rachel Poliquin in The
Breathless Zoo, “it has helped people to place themselves in relation to the rest of the world. Human
beings seem to need the wild and endlessly seek it out.” Although purporting to offer insights into nature,
zoos isolate species from one another, disrupting any natural interaction between different groups of
animals, reptiles, fish and birds. Animals are caged, or confined in glasshouses or pits – incarcerated,
disenfranchised, and disempowered.
The topographic method and formal visual geometry of the photography emphasises containment and
display. The camera articulates views for the spectator; perspective organises imagery around a single
viewing position. This ego-centric system is not exclusive to the visual arts; the fourth wall viewpoint
offered by the proscenium arch stage, similarly ‘plays’ to the audience. Zoological gardens, likewise, are
constructed in terms of the theatre of exhibition. Excluding the protagonist and therefore plot, we avoid any
possibility of empathy, or worse, ‘anthropomorphism – the constant enemy. The greatest crime’ says Mark
The Carceri photographs form a contribution to contemporary zoo photography in a fine art context. The
work constitutes a critical intervention which bridges the always human-focussed New Objectivity of
Candida Hofer's Zoologischer Garten, and the overtly political animal advocacy images of Britta Jaschinski.
Cumulatively, the photographs collapse the roles of human visitor and captive zoo animal into one, and
raise difficult and urgent questions about both.
Martin Pover lives and works in London as a photographer, and has lectured in
Fine Art, Printmaking, Graphic Design and Photography at the Slade, Middlesex
University and, most recently as Course Leader in Photography at the University
for the Creative Arts, Farnham, Surrey.
The Carceri work is ‘ongoing’ and has been published in Portfolio magazine with
an essay by Liz Wells. It has been exhibited as a set of 26 1m x 1m. prints in New
York, Krakow, Poland, Den Helder in the Netherlands, and in the Brighton Photo
Biennial. Two pictures from the series are currently on show at the Royal
Academy Summer Exhibition.
Pan: A Cinematic Essay
‘Why did we get up from our four points of contact to give ourselves this concentrated
stance? To distance our head from the ground and our hearts from the earth. What could
happen if we got back down?’ – excerpt from Pan (script)
Pan is a short essay film proposing landscape as metaphor, written and directed in Scotland
by Rosie Roberts in 2018. The piece investigates both human and non-human interactions,
mobilising ‘elrick’ or ‘dear run’ - a landscape feature in which animals were pre-historically
hunted – to enact these nuanced relationships. Taking this feature as a metaphor for the
feeling of being ‘hounded’, the director takes her dogs and friends to this feature and
explores changing connections through looking, feeling and writing in the landscape.
Building on these connections the director explores her relationship with long-term mental
illness and demi-fluctuant recovery. The film and its characters embody the conferences
ethos of ‘aesthetic transformation, instigating a refashioning of how we think about,
encounter, and live with animals.’ Our understanding of our history with them in landscape,
as companions and colleagues is problematized. Central to the making process was Donna
Haraway’s thoughts regarding categorisation and her proposal to; ‘try speaking with things,
an activity in which intellectual and political practices are knotted into myriad material
contexts – not all of them human'. Pan’s duration is 11 minutes and the screening is accompanied by physical copy of the script that participants are welcome to take away, an act that gestures toward a generous and
cathartic group reading practice. The script, written simultaneously to the cinematographic
process in order to subvert the relationship between script writing and image making. A
brief introduction to the academic and artistic context of the film would be included in the
Rosie Roberts is an artist, writer and filmmaker from Glasgow. She is currently a post-
graduate practice-based researcher at Glasgow School Art within the Master of Letters in
Art Writing programme lead by Laura Edbrook. Her research gestures towards moments of
relief, companionship and self-stimulation. Having worked throughout the islands of the
North Atlantic for the last four years, her process also weaves histories of transformation
and a subversion of the male voice into the narrative fabric of her investigations. Rosie
intends to contribute to the field of those offering a fuller account of understanding
women’s lives through combining feminist perspectives and poetic approaches.
Most Awful Scratches: Authorizing Animals in D. H. Lawrence
My recent work on concepts of the bioaesthetic has led to an interest in the question of animal
“authority” in modernist literature. How are animals represented or experienced as authorizing
forces or as “authors” in literature of the modernist period? What qualities of authority are called
upon when animals become sources of sanctioning, knowledge, or permission in literary work?
If we re-frame something like Foucault’s outlining of an “author-function” in discursive
practices to accommodate animal authority, the question of the author becomes a much more
radically open question than Foucault could have anticipated. What replaces the apotheosis of
écriture in an animalized framework? Is it Derrida’s animot? Is it a zoopoetics that bears witness
to humans’ entanglement with life, as a repressed or disavowed “given” of writing? How do
animal authorities profoundly affect the kinship between writing and death that Foucault (and
Barthes) elaborate? Is the evocation of an animal authority in creative or artistic work a “radical”
refusal of the proper name, of the individual mark, or does it rather concede that the operations
of authentification and verification (tied to self-presence, in at least some sense) ought to be
accorded to animals, also? Along these lines, this paper explores moments of animal “authority”
in D. H. Lawrence’s work such as the rabbit’s scratch in Women in Love, that can be read in
relation to theories of literacy, and the “piercing” beaks of birds in poems from Birds, Beasts,
and Flowers, that suggest a blood-conscious animal marking or tracing.
CARRIE ROHMAN is Professor of English at Lafayette College. She has published widely in animal studies, modernism, posthumanism, and performance, in such journals as Deleuze Studies, Modernism/modernity, American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, Hypatia, and a number of edited volumes. She is the author ofStalking the Subject: Modernism and the Animal (Columbia 2009) and Choreographies of the Living: Bioaesthetics in Literature, Art, and Performance (Oxford 2018). Carrie has also worked as a modern dancer and choreographer, within and outside of the academy, for more than twenty years. Her most recent animal-related performance explored memorializing the extinct passenger pigeon, in collaboration with installation artist and musician Michael Pestel (2014).
Beastly Modernisms and Anti-modernisms: Breeding Animals in the Third Reich
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a heated debate among German historians about the modernist heritage of the Third Reich. Based mainly on the rather reduced definition that modernism equals progressiveness, some historians refused to acknowledge the Nazi’s entanglement with the modernist agenda outright, whereas others saw National Socialism as the dark side of modernism.
The tension between the futurist perspectives of a Thousand Year Reich that was at the same time to be seen as rooted in a mythical Germanic past was not easily resolved. Although the discussion has since been far less at the centre of what German historians saw as futile for the understanding of National Socialism as such, this original disagreement has not lost its weight. Based on my empirical findings and my approach of a political animal history of the Third Reich, I want to therefore show how bringing in the animals reveals this tension as the heart of where national socialist ideology stood in terms of modernism. Taking animal breeding as an example, I will present arguments that within this one single issue we can see the simultaneity of modern and anti-modern elements in Nazi-ideology and practices at work. Breeding the proper animals was seen as way for economic autarky, genetic enhancement and species survival, all of which can be regarded as modernist approaches. Yet at the same time, these approaches were based on an ideology that prioritised what can be dubbed “Germanic” animals over others, thereby reverting to anti-modernist and folklorist notions such as blood and soil and “Lebensraum”. Thus, I hope to contribute with the paper to the discussion of how, by looking at animals, we can help to provide a more nuanced picture of what modernity really entails.
Mieke Roscher is assistant professor for social and cultural history and the history of human-
animal relations at the University of Kassel, Germany. Her academic interests centre on
colonial and gender history, the history the Third Reich as well as animal historiography.
Derek Ryan is Senior Lecturer in Modernist Literature at the University of Kent and author of Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction (Edinburgh UP, 2015) and Virginia Woolf and the Materiality of Theory: Sex, Animal, Life(Edinburgh UP, 2013). He has published work on modernism and animality in Deleuze Studies, Twentieth-Century Literature and Modern Fiction Studies, and has recently co-edited two volumes: The Handbook to the Bloomsbury Group (Bloomsbury, 2018) and Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern (Routledge, 2019). Derek is currently Literature Editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism and a co-editor of the Cambridge Edition of Virginia Woolf’s Flush: A Biography.
Stray Cats and Transported Cattle: Shades of the Urban in T.S. Eliot and James Joyce
Over the last decade, a formidable body of scholarship—led by the likes of Carrie Rohman
and Derek Ryan—has emerged to centre the animal as a fundamental concern for
modernism, opening up thrilling possibilities for modernism’s contribution to animal studies.
However, this scholarship has not significantly addressed one of modernism’s central
narratives—its intimate relationship with the urban; rather, the investment has been in
modernist representations of the wilderness and the “primitive” (as in Philip Armstrong) or in
a primarily symbolic, linguistic or ontological/metaphysical understanding of the modernist
animal (as in Derek Ryan) without fully considering the urban habitat in which such animals
often appear. Ecocritical scholars such as Joshua Schuster have emphasized the distinctive,
industrially inflected ecology that pervades modernist literature. In this aspect, I follow their
work while focusing more on the literary relationship between animal and urban environment
than on questions central to ecocriticism.
A question I pursue in this context is whether urban animals in modernism appear as alien to
the city, injecting it with their nonhuman wilderness, or whether they emanate from urban
matter and express a fundamentally urban identity. In considering this question, I explore the
role of cats in T.S. Eliot’s poetry and cattle in James Joyce’s Ulysses (also linking them to
less canonical authors). In both writers, I argue, animals are inextricable from their urban
setting but unsettle urban ubiquity by drawing attention to themselves and consequently,
provoking scrutiny of the features defining their urban origin. Further, I demonstrate how
Eliot’s animals exude their potency from within a classic definition of urban, rooted in the city,
while Joyce’s animals delineate the different layers comprising an ambivalent, irregular
version of the urban. In the process, I wish to further the understanding of the urban as
heterogeneous but always bound to the animal.
Anushka Sen is a PhD student from India, currently in her third year at Indiana University’s
department of English. She works on how the presence of animals and other nonhumans
complicate and enrich narratives of urban modernism. Her passions include pedagogy,
activism, and poetry. She has presented a paper on the urban-rural continuum in Zora Neale
Hurston’s shorter fiction, and on the underground valences of George Herrman’s Krazy Kat.*
She hopes to eventually work on the intersections of human-animal relations, caste, religion
and urban life in the Indian context.
* Due to present at the MELUS conference at Cincinnati in March 21-24, 2019.
From the telluric depths: transition’s beastly modernism
The field of periodical studies has expanded greatly in recent years. We have an ever-growing body of digitized sources, which has hugely increased our understanding. Modernist culture swims through bespoke presses and glossy Sunday supplements alike, and demands further analysis. But how might we read them, beyond biographies and indexes? Scholars such as Eric White and Céline Mansanti have made significant inroads into the field, focusing on transatlantic nationalisms, and “organic” or “soft” modernism respectively. This paper takes one document in particular, which is perhaps the largest of the “little” magazines: Eugene and Maria Jolas’s transition (1927–1938). I will attempt to outline a different kind of methodology, testing the idea that a good way of reading this extraordinary magazine—famous for publishing Joyce’s “Work in Progress” throughout its run—is through its animal metaphors. The magazine is, in fact, fullof animals. From Kafka’s unspecified Ungeziefer or “unclean” animal at the heart of “Metamorphosis” (published for the first time in English in transition) to the amoeboid shapes in abstract art and Surrealist-influenced poetry, one can, perhaps, read a shared fascination with creatures from what Jolas repeatedly refers to as the “telluric depths”, as part of his sustained “Revolution of the Word”. I will focus on one area in particular: the lizard. Why do we find figurative reptiles through the magazine? How do they related to the 1920s fascination with the inhuman “third” or “pineal eye”? The overlooked German poet Gottfried Benn’s various contributions over the years, some of which was highly dubious, offer space for consideration. By assessing this and related material I will tentatively propose what might be called a “primordial modernism”: a quasi-Jungian, quasi-antihumanist, not-quite collective sensibility as authors turned again and again to creatures furthest from ourselves as part of their aesthetic practice. What are the implications of reading in this way? Is it helpful in approaching what Andreas Kramer and Rainer Rumold have called the “dark side” of modernism?
Cathryn Setz is an Associate Visiting Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford. Together with Elizabeth Pender she is Co-Editor of Shattered Objects: Djuna Barnes's Modernism (Penn State University Press, 2019), and with Len Gutkin and Sophie Oliver she is working on a collaborative Selected Letters of Djuna Barnes project. Her first book, Primordial Modernism: Animals, Ideas, _transition_ (1927--1938) (Edinburgh University Press, 2019) explores animal metaphors as a way of reading Maria and Eugene Jolas's major international modernist magazine, and her current research focuses on the history of popular biology and its intersections with North American literary journals, especially during the 1920s and the so-called "Eclipse of Darwinism". She has also written articles on contemporary fiction and essays for a range of journals, including Textual Practice, the Times Literary Supplement, and The LA Review of Books.
‘Microbes, Germs, Bacteria’: Living micro-organisms in James Joyce’s
If the thought of a colony of mites scuttling over cheese makes your stomach turn
consider Bloom’s ‘Mity cheese’. Bacteria, yeasts, and moulds come together to form
a microbial community and the bacterium, closely related to that which produces feet
and body odours, gives the ‘feety savour’ to the Gorgonzola sandwich so beloved by
19thC improvements in the microscope stimulated an interest in natural history:
Louis Pasteur proved that the souring of milk was caused by living organisms and
Robert Koch identified the organisms that caused tuberculosis. Both Pasteur and
Koch are referenced in Ulysses, and Bloom talks about the ‘incalculable trillions of
billions of millions of imperceptible molecules’ in ‘microbes, germs and bacteria’.
Mr Mulligan (Hyg. et Eug. Doc) says that the ‘greylunged citizens contract adenoids
[and] pulmonary complaints by inhaling the bacteria which lurk in the dust. Safe food
and personal hygiene are issues for Bloom as he watches a young man spread a
batch of microbes from one item to another as he polishes a tumbler, knife and fork;
but he also recognises that microbes, germs and bacteria are nature’s heroes;
they break down dead things into ‘corpsemanure’ and ‘mulch of dung’, in a
never-ending cycle of ‘food, chyle, blood, dung, earth and food’.
Flicka Small’s PhD Thesis centres on the ‘Semiotics of Food’ in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Recently she has been working on the relationship between food and mental health or the
gut/brain axis on fictional characters in literature. Flicka is a tutor and co-ordinator of the
seminar “Edible Ireland” in the School of English, University College Cork. She has given
papers on the work of James Joyce at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Dublin, London
Flicka co-authored the chapter ‘The Food Culture of the Iveragh Peninsula' in The Atlas of
the Iveragh Penisula. Cork University Press (2009), and wrote ‘What Food Says about
Leopold Bloom’ in Tickling the Palate: Gastronomy in Irish Literature and Culture. Eds
Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire and Eamon Maher. Peter Lang (2014).
The Animal Modern Artist
It has been seventy years since a chimpanzee named Congo was seen on the British television show Zoo Time making paintings. Since then, representatives of seemingly every species capable of grasping a brush have been given the opportunity and/or the imperative to generate paintings. Dogs, dolphins, seals, rhinoceroses, elephants, and parrots to name a few have all put pigment to paper, in the process raising numerous questions, chief among them seeming to be whether they are truly suitable to being described not just as paintings, but as art. Skepticism is generally implicit within the framing of the question, almost invariably posed as, “But is it art?” A second tendency, however, directs its skepticism toward the art of (human) abstract painters such as Helen Frankenthaler, whose works are mocked for their apparent indistinguishability from paintings by a chimpanzee or gorilla. This paper will examine the underlying assumptions of these discourses specifically with an eye toward their implications for the idea of modern art, which indisputably, albeit inadvertently created the conditions for the gestural, non-figurative paintings of other animals to be perceived as potential works of art rather than as mere mark-making. Though some forms of skepticism and incredulity regarding these images betray the all too familiar biases of speciesism, other criticisms are worthy of consideration, particularly in relation to the commodification of works produced by animals in captive circumstances.
Dr. Kirsten Strom is Professor of Art History at Grand Valley State University where she teaches a course on Animals in Art. She is the author of The Animal Surreal: The Role of Darwin, Animals, and Evolution in Surrealism (Taylor and Francis, 2017). She has also recently translated and illustrated a children’s book of Robert’s Desnos’s animal and flower poems, Apple Blossom and Nightingale.
The Bestial Completion of the Human: Kafka’s Modernist Messianism
Among the Zürau Aphorisms Franz Kafka writes, ‘To anamalise is humane, to humanise is animal’. On the surface, the distinction between the animal and the human is neatly reinforced in the symmetry of this statement. Yet, as is ever the case in Kafka’s writings, the hardest of surface images may extend to complex depths. Here the natures of the human and the animal are set as opposing mirrors, the image of each located within the other, multiplying in images and impressions that extend from each initial referent into the depths of its neighbour. It is a notion that is born out in a number of Kafka’s most famous short fictions in which human and animal physicality and subjectivity are examined in a characteristically ambiguous mode.
This paper will look at the distinctive ways in which Kafka presents the human and animal as distinct natures which may yet communicate and find their reconciliation within each other in the always anticipated messianic time. Approaching Kafka’s work with a sensitivity to its Jewish roots, I will expound Kafka’s animal tales in light of medieval images of animal-headed celebrants of the
messianic banquet, Hasidic tales, and the kabbalah revival in which traditional sources found
sympathetic accommodation among modern Jewish thinkers such as Gershom Scholem, Walter
Benjamin and Franz Rosenzweig, who drew on these arcane sources to establish a distinctively
Hebraic variant of modernism’s key motifs. I shall then use Kafka’s ideas to tender a response to
contemporary discussions of the human-animal divide and the question of who/what is
human/animal at the end of history.
Dr Christopher John Thornhill is a Teaching Associate in the Department of Theology and Religious
Studies at the University of Nottingham. He teaches a wide range of modules on subjects in religion,
philosophy and literature. His main research area is the confluence of religious and ecological
thought in the arts, with a particular concern for creative engagements with arcane and mystical
traditions. A doctoral dissertation which considers the use of diverse religious sources in the
ecological vision of Cormac McCarthy is forthcoming as a book. He is also a published poet whose
work is informed by ecology, folklore and mysticism.
More Swallows to Follow: Repetitive Animals in H.D.’s Asphodel
The repetition of words and phrases is an important stylistic characteristic of H.D.’s novels. In
Asphodel, many of these recurring figures are animals, who proliferate the text both as actors
and images. Although these animals often have a symbolic element in their initial appearance,
the symbolism is reduced—or even revoked—through the repetitions, which raises the
question of what is left in its stead. Therefore, the functions and effects of these animal
recurrences will be the focus of my paper. What is the significance of the repetitions, and in
what way is it important that it is animals that reappear? Are the recurrences an effect of a Freudian repetition compulsion? Can we understand them as what Deleuze and Guattari call a
refrain, marking an animal territory and holding the textual assemblage together? Or do they
conjure the textuality of the narrative, as Derridean iterability?
Following the persistently reemerging bed bugs, swallows, and foxes in Asphodel, I will
explore different ways of theorizing and conceptualizing repetition in order to understand how
animals come into the textual world and language of the novel through it. In addition, this will
provoke questions about the ways in which modernist style and language utilize animals,
while perhaps also being formed by them.
Maria Trejling is a PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature at Stockholm University. She is currently beginning her second year working on a dissertation about literalizing animals in novels by Virginia Woolf, H.D., Djuna Barnes, and D.H. Lawrence. Her research is founded upon a Derridean fascination with language, spectrality, impossibility, and absence.
Goblin and Commodious Bees in Emily Dickinson and Mina Loy
Drawing on established interpretations of Emily Dickinson as a mother (or queen bee) of modernist poetics, this paper begins by exploring Dickinson’s bees as symbols of sexuality, work and rebellion. Dickinson’s ‘Goblin’ bees are often a metaphor for poetry itself, and I consider how the nesting habits of bees resonate with Dickinson’s own poetic making, influenced by the popular myth of Dickinson as a poet confined to a domestic space in which she baked bread and tended the garden, much as bees make honey. However, as well as offering resonant chambers of female work as discipline, Dickinson’s bees also symbolise disruptive sexuality and productive excess. I argue that her bees, associated with work, might also escape the confines of the hive. I then move to consider Mina Loy’s poem ‘Mass-Production on 14th Street’, which likens the ‘commodious bee’ (l. 9) to the eye’s ‘iris circus of Industry’ (l. 8) amid consumer products, hosiery and lace. Loy’s poetics owe much to Dickinson’s, but she locates her urban bees in the streets of New York, connecting them explicitly to ‘garment worker’s, and female industrial labour, as well as the work of sexual desire: “all this Eros’ produce dressed in audacious fuschia, orgies of orchid or dented dandelion among a foliage of mass-production” (ll. 20–25). Tracing a line between Dickinson and Loy as poets and makers, I argue that both poets heighten tensions between the bee as a symbol of a disciplined worker and the bee as a symbol of flight, by alternately playing the roles of ‘worker bee’ and ‘queen bee’ in full charge of their craft. I argue that their poetic habits are most analogous to the nesting of mason bees, which assimilate any material to hand, including flower petals, into the autonomous structures of their nests.
A monograph developed from my Cambridge PhD research, Reading Fragments and Fragmentation in Modernist Literature (Sussex Academic Press), was published in 2018; a debut poetry collection, Heroines: On the Blue Peninsula, is forthcoming (V. Press, 2019). I currently teach for the University of Cambridge; the London College of Creative Media; and Middlebury-CMRS.
The Insectuous Brothers: Karel Čapek’s and Jan Švankmajer’s Avantgardism(s) and the Limits of Humanism
On the basis of a comparative analysis of Jan Švankmajer’s recent (2018) film adaptation of the
famous Insect Play by Karel (& Josef) Čapek (1922), the paper seeks to address the problematic avant-gardism of both the playwright and the filmmaker.
Karel Čapek’s work is oftentimes seen as marked by a (politically democratic & aesthetically
conservative) humanism that is devoid of sharp socio-critical barbs or politically subversive
messages. However, when read not in the context of its author’s political or aesthetic
pronouncements, but rather as part of the avantgarde project of interrogating the
human/animal binary, and rethinking the relationship of the human and the machinic (or indeed
the human as machinic), Čapek’s early 1920s novelistic & dramatic work yields a very different picture. Indeed, it foregrounds such themes as the transcendence of the human (as in R.U.R. where emancipation of rationality leads to the wipe-out of humanity), its subversion (as when, in Krakatit, the scientific explosion of power in nature parallels libidinal disruptions within the ego), or outright loss (as in Insect Play, where human social organisation is stripped of its primal taboos and demoted to the insect level).
These more radical concerns are brought into relief in Švankmajer’s Insect (2018), an
homage to Čapek’s problematic avant-gardism, but also a critique of some of Čapek’s own
political compromises surrounding the production of the play. Švankmajer’s dialogue with
Čapek—taking place over the hundred years separating our present moment from the post-WWI
inception of Central European avant-gardism—broaches the topics of their shared examination
of the limits of the human, and the problematic borderline between the “natural” & the
technological, and the biological & the machinic at the heart of the so-called “human.”
David Vichnar is senior lecturer at the English Department at Charles University Prague. Apart from the academe, he is also active as an editor, publisher and translator. His publications include Joyce Against Theoryand Subtexts: Essays on Fiction, his edited publications include Hypermedia Joyce, Thresholds, Praharfeast: James Joyce in Prague and Terrain: Essays on the New Poetics. In 2015, two books of his translation into English appeared: Philippe Sollers’ H (from French) and Melchior Vischer’s Second through Brain(from German). He acts as managing editor of Litteraria Pragensia Books and Equus Press, some of whose production is available at the symposium bookstand.
Modernisms, Magnetisms and the Beastly Burdens of Memory
In her autobiographical, “A Sketch of the Past,” Virginia Woolf remembers a dream—or possibly an actual experience—where she looks in a mirror and sees the “horrible face” of an animal. My paper will begin with this moment in order to address modernist and contemporary concerns with memory as beastly or creaturely matter that either resists or escapes intelligibility. My paper will move from Woolf to recent collaborations between the “high-modernist” writer, J. M. Coetzee and the taxidermic artist, Berlinde de Bruyckere, in order to ask how whether and how animals and creaturely matter might serve as what Walter Benjamin has referred to as “receptacles of the forgotten” and so, perhaps, offer alternative methods for healing the wounds of the past.
Kari Weil is University Professor of Letters at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (University Press of Virginia, 1992), Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now (Columbia UP, 2012) and has published numerous essays on literary representations of gender, feminist theory and, more recently, on theories and representations of animal otherness and human-animal relations. She is completing her current book project, Precarious Partners: Horses and their Humans in Nineteenth-Century France, which is under contract with the University of Chicago Press.
Listen, we all bleed: Animal Sounds in Radical Art
Mandy-Suzanne Wong suggests that hearing suffering from the mouths of those who suffer
incites an urgent sense of empathy in those who listen. Drawing on philosophical discussions by
Lori Gruen and Kathie Jenni, she discusses how three contemporary artists use sound to evoke
empathy between human and nonhuman animals. In Video Action, a sonic ritual based on activist
videos, dave phillips draws the suffering of nonhumans in labs and slaughterhouses into his own
body. In Requiem, Kathryn Eddy juxtaposes the grieving of farmed animals separated from their
loved ones with an excruciating human loss. In Orienta, Quiet Ensemble follows garden snails in
light and sound. All three artworks try to function empathetically—to act out and sound out
empathy—with sonic collages as bold and sudden as Gertrude Stein’s prose, polyphonic shifts
and juxtapositions calling every perspective into question, encouraging audiences to think
beyond themselves as they listen.
Mandy-Suzanne Wong is a Bermudian novelist and literary nonfiction writer. In the US, her
fiction chapbook Awabi was the 2018 winner of the Digging Press Chapbook Series
Competition; and her debut novel, Drafts of a Suicide Note, forthcoming from Regal House, was
a finalist for the 2018 Permafrost Book Prize and a semifinalist for the Conium Review Book
Prize and Santa Fe Writers’ Project Literary Award. Her essays on sound appear in Sonic Field,
Volume!, The Hypocrite Reader, The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art, and elsewhere. She
was a founding editor of the interdisciplinary journal Evental Aesthetics.
CAROL L. YANG
Eliot’s “Monkey Trial” and Anthropomorphism in The Cocktail Party
T. S. Eliot’s treatment of Celia’s martyrdom in The Cocktail Party has caused
quite a critical furore. The announcement of Celia’s death is brought into a grotesque
mésalliance with the buffoonery of the partygoers: it is first preceded by the absurd
story Alex tells about monkeys and cannibals on a tropical island called “Kinkanja,”
then Peter's arrival from California diverts the conversation to more buffoonery
concerning his working for Pan-Am-Eagle. This is a sharply defamiliarized scene
filled with abrupt and odd juxtapositions and eccentricities: Peter dined with Princess
Bologolomsky at the New York restaurant called the Saffron Monkey; the cannibals in
Kinkanja eat Christians who have eaten monkeys; and Celia is crucified near an ant-
hill (eaten by ants if not by cannibals). In the Chamberlaynes’ drawing room, it is
monkeys (“I wondered where you were taking us, with your monkeys,” CPP, p. 429)
that turn the presumed native and familiar world into an alien world—Kinkanja in the
Orient—underpinning the logic of anthropomorphism and strange(r)ness. This is
where Alex’s saffron monkey and Eliot’s monkey trial are leading us to: “whether the
monkeys are the core of the problem/Or merely a symptom . . . At least, the monkeys
have become the pretext,” “We have just drawn up an interim report . . . There are too
many international complications” (CPP, pp. 427-29). What has been ridiculed is not
Celia’s martyrdom but the “international complications” on the tropical island
inhabited by monkeys and cannibals; what has been parodied is the viewpoint of an
uncomprehending European colonist encountering issues of nonreferentiality and
strange(r)ness in an outlandish place like Kinkanja (the conventional “British
Council” method offers no real solution but merely an “interim report”). This paper
aims to explore the destabilizing aspects of Eliot’s The Cocktail Party: via Eliot’s
“monkey trial” and anthropomorphism, the play questions both the religious belief in
divine creation as well as the secular belief in continual progress; what is striking
about the play is how Eliot makes the most banal physical scenes seem indeterminate,
and the play seizes upon such senses of nonreferentiality and strange(r)ness in human
epistemology, language, and existence.
Carol L. Yang is Professor of English at National Chengchi University, Taipei,
Taiwan. She received her Ph.D. degree from Birmingham University, United
Kingdom. She has published articles on T. S. Eliot and John Keats in Yeats Eliot
Review, Orbis Litterarum, New Comparison, and JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory,
and a book, The Development of T. S. Eliot’s Style from Poetry to Poetic Drama:
Dialogism, Carnivalization, and Music (Lewiston and Queenston: Mellen, 2011). She
has also written book chapters published in The Waste Land at 90: A Retrospective
(Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011), Nobel Laureates As Playwrights: An
Anthology of Critical Essays (Kolkata: Arati Mitra for Avenel Press, 2013), Images of
Whiteness (Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press, 2013), Writing Difference: Nationalism,
Identity and Literature (New Delhi: Atlantic Books, 2014), Unsettling Whiteness
(Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2014), Ethical Exchanges in Translation,
Adaptation and Dramaturgy (Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers, 2017). Yang has
delivered papers on T. S. Eliot, Walter Benjamin, Timberlake Wertenbaker, and on the
narratives of post/modernist urban literature at international conferences in the United
States and Europe.