Animals and Humans

BookAnimals and Humans

Animals and Humans

Sensibility and Representation, 1650-1820

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2017:04


April 4th, 2017



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European culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed a radical redefinition of ‘humanity’ and its place in the environment, together with a new understanding of animals and their relation to humans. In examining the dynamics of animal-human relations as embodied in the literature, art, farming practices, natural history, religion and philosophy of this period, leading experts explore the roots of much current thinking on interspecies morality and animal welfare.
The animal-human relationship challenged not only disciplinary boundaries – between poetry and science, art and animal husbandry, natural history and fiction – but also the basic assumptions of human intellectual and cultural activity, expression, and self-perception. This is specifically apparent in the re-evaluation of sentiment and sensibility, which constitutes a major theme of this chronologically organised volume. Authors engage with contemporary reactions to the commodification of animals during the period of British imperialism, tracing how eighteenth-century ecological consciousness and notions of animal identity and welfare emerged from earlier, traditional models of the cosmos, and reassessing late eighteenth-century poetic representations of the sentimental encounter with the animal other. They show how human experience was no longer viewed as an iterative process but as one continually shaped by the other. In concluding chapters authors highlight the political resonances of the animal-human relationship as it was used both to represent and to redress the injustices between humans as well as between humans and animals. Through a multifaceted study of eighteenth-century European culture, authors reveal how the animal presence – both real and imagined – forces a different reading not only of texts but also of society.

'The chapters present a bounty of intriguing fresh readings of canonized works (including James Thomson’s The Seasons [1730], AlexanderPope’s Windsor Forest [1713], and Pope’s An Essay on Man [1734]) as well as eighteenth-century texts that have so far remained under-researchedor outright overlooked.'
- Bärbel Czennia, Eighteenth-Century Fiction

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of illustrations10
Chapter 1. Edmund Waller’s whales: marine mammals and animal heroism in the early Atlantic26
Chapter 2. Guns, ivory and elephant graveyards: the biopolitics of elephants’ teeth46
Chapter 3. Animals and natural history in eighteenth-century France68
Chapter 4. ‘A hollow Moan’: the contours of the non-human world in James Thomson’s The Seasons86
Chapter 5. The great chain of being as an ecological idea110
Chapter 6. John Aikin, Joseph Addison and two eighteenth-century Eastern tales of remembered metempsychosis130
Chapter 7. ‘Little Lives in Air’: animal sentience and sensibility in Pope152
Chapter 8. ‘No, helpless thing’: interspecies intimacy in the poetry of Burns and Barbauld184
Chapter 9. Thomas Gainsborough’s sensible animals202
Chapter 10. Animal actors: literary pedigrees and bloodlines in eighteenth-century animal breeding230
Chapter 11. ‘An egg dropped on the sand’: the natural history of female bastardy from Mark Catesby to Mary Wollstonecraft246
Chapter 12. Animals and the country-house tradition in Mary Leapor’s ‘Crumble Hall’ and Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park280
Biographies of contributors306