Empire and the Animal Body: Violence, Identity and Ecology in Victorian Adventure Fiction

Overview

‘Empire and the Animal Body: Violence, Identity and Ecology in Victorian Adventure Fiction’ explores representations of exotic animals in Victorian adventure fiction, mainly in works by R. M. Ballantyne, G. A. Henty, G. M. Fenn, Paul du Chaillu, H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan. These primary texts are concerned with Southern and West Africa, India and what is now Indonesia in the period 1860–1910, an era which comprises imperial expansion, consolidation and the beginnings of imperial decline. Representations of exotic animals in such literary

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Overview

‘Empire and the Animal Body: Violence, Identity and Ecology in Victorian Adventure Fiction’ explores representations of exotic animals in Victorian adventure fiction, mainly in works by R. M. Ballantyne, G. A. Henty, G. M. Fenn, Paul du Chaillu, H. Rider Haggard and John Buchan. These primary texts are concerned with Southern and West Africa, India and what is now Indonesia in the period 1860–1910, an era which comprises imperial expansion, consolidation and the beginnings of imperial decline. Representations of exotic animals in such literary works generally revolve around portrayals of violence, either in big-game hunting or in the collection of scientific specimens, and draw on a range of literary sources, most notably romance, natural history writing and ‘penny dreadful’ fiction.

This study investigates how these texts’ depictions of forms of violence complicate the seemingly fundamental distinction of humans from animals, and undermines the ideological structures of imperial rule. Rather than an innate and hierarchical opposition, the relationship of humans with their animal others emerges in this context as a complex interplay of kinship and difference. This argument both continues the postcolonial dismantling of empire’s logic of domination and develops the recentering of the nonhuman in environmentally focused criticism. Most vitally, it also signals the relation between these fields: the necessary interdependence of human and nonhuman interests, environmental activism and global social justice.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

‘An excellent inquiry into the inscription of environmental violence in imperial adventure fiction and its bearings on the genre’s popularity. Lucid, rigorous and assured, it promises to be a foundational text at the juncture of Victorian studies, ecocriticism and colonial history.’ —Dr Anthony Carrigan, Keele University

‘A compelling and original contribution to its deftly combined fields of study. Miller tracks the fascinatingly unstable division between human/animal identity as it emerges in late Victorian adventure writing, examining its effects on the overlapping rhetoric of racism, speciesism and colonialism at the height of Britain’s empire.’ —Dr Christine Ferguson, University of Glasgow

‘Using ideas from animal studies and ecocriticism, Miller reveals the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century genre of imperial romance to be a crucial and fascinating site of anxiety about that being called the human. “Empire and the Animal Body” will be essential reading for everyone interested in thinking about how we live in the world: who it is that we have been and who it is that we are today.’ —Professor Erica Fudge, University of Strathclyde

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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Miller is currently a lecturer in nineteenth-century literature at the University of Sheffield. He has published widely on animal studies and ecocriticism, particularly in relation to British Empire writing and postcolonial studies.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgments; Introduction; Chapter 1: Otherness and Order; Chapter 2: Scientists and Specimens; Chapter 3: The Animal Within; Chapter 4: Wild Men and Wilderness; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index

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