It is a clear, demanding, and brilliantly executed piece of work, which ethicists should not dismiss out of any bias against literary readings. One of the book's many strong points is in deepening our grasp of the task to embrace reflection on the ethical subject and the tangled lines that link it to a nonhuman inheritance.
Stalking the Subject: Modernism and the Animalby Carrie Rohman
Human and animal subjectivity converge in a historically unprecedented way within modernism, as evolutionary theory, imperialism, antirationalism, and psychoanalysis all grapple with the place of the human in relation to the animal. Drawing on the thought of Jacques Derrida and Georges Bataille, Carrie Rohman outlines the complex philosophical and ethical stakes
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Human and animal subjectivity converge in a historically unprecedented way within modernism, as evolutionary theory, imperialism, antirationalism, and psychoanalysis all grapple with the place of the human in relation to the animal. Drawing on the thought of Jacques Derrida and Georges Bataille, Carrie Rohman outlines the complex philosophical and ethical stakes involved in theorizing the animal in humanism, including the difficulty in determining an ontological place for the animal, the question of animal consciousness and language, and the paradoxical status of the human as both a primate body and a "human" mind abstracting itself from the physical and material world. Rohman then turns to the work of Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence, H. G. Wells, and Djuna Barnes, authors who were deeply invested in the relationship between animality and identity. The Island of Dr. Moreau embodies a Darwinian nightmare of the evolutionary continuum; The Croquet Player thematizes the dialectic between evolutionary theory and psychoanalysis; and Women in Love, St. Mawr, and Nightwood all refuse to project animality onto others, inverting the traditional humanist position by valuing animal consciousness. A novel treatment of the animal in literature, Stalking the Subject provides vital perspective on modernism's most compelling intellectual and philosophical issues.
Accessible to any determined reader due to [Rohman's] engaging, clear writing style and her compelling critical readings of specific modernist texts.
- Columbia University Press
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What People are saying about this
In this penetrating, theoretically informed analysis, Carrie Rohman extends the study of modernist anxieties over boundaries of race and gender to the species barrier. She both reassesses the influences of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud and approaches the modernist animal closely and even reciprocally in readings of Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, Djuna Barnes, and especially D. H. Lawrence.
Smart, timely, and incisive, Stalking the Subject makes an important contribution to modernist criticism and consolidates crucial work in animal studies. Carrie Rohman draws on Cary Wolfe's seminal Animal Rites to frame psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud to Slavoj Zizek and Anglo-American modernist literature from H. G. Wells to Djuna Barnes. Especially notable is her vigorous contribution to the ongoing delineation of D. H. Lawrence's posthumanism. Stalking the Subject revises modernism from the side of the animal other.
Meet the Author
Carrie Rohman is assistant professor of English at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
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