Navigation – Plan du site

Why Animals Can Make Us Better Victorianists

Comment les animaux peuvent faire de nous de meilleurs victorianistes
Fabienne Moine

Texte intégral

1From Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s devoted Flush and Lewis Carroll’s scurrying white rabbit to Anna Sewell’s wretched Black Beauty, Christina Rossetti’s monstrous crocodile and her brother’s darling wombat. From Dickens’s canine friends and Charles Darwin’s memorable finches, to mites under the microscope, pet cats on ladies’ laps and dinosaurs in Sydenham Park. From chimpanzees in menageries and hunting trophies on colonial walls to pedigree dogs at the Kennel Club and war dogs on the battlefield. All these and more flocked, padded, swam, teemed and crawled their way through Victorian lives and similarly abound in the representations of the period. And yet no conference on the subject of animals had ever been organised by the Société française d’études victoriennes et édouardiennes (SFEVE) since the foundation of that scholarly society in 1976. It was high time to correct that oversight, and celebrate those creatures often considered as muses, friends, foils or doubles; and whose presence, soothing or ominous, cannot be ignored by any researcher who wants to fully understand the world of the Victorians.

  • 1 ‘Becoming Animal with the Victorians’ was held at the University Paris Diderot on 4-5 February 2016 (...)

2The articles collected in this special issue of Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens originated in papers given at the 2016 SFEVE conference, Becoming Animal with the Victorians’.1 This was a very successful event, attracting scholars from France, Britain and further afield. A wide variety of papers and subjects tried to leave no Victorian stone unturned. Subjects ranged from the beetles that might be found scuttling under that stone to butterfly and shell mania; from cross-breeding, vivisection and pet-keeping to taxidermy and bull-baiting. With contributions from the fields of zoology, politics, history, literature, philosophy and economics, the extent of the international response to this conference shows that Victorian animals matter; that they bring together specialists of that period from around the world, and that they stimulate conversations between literary scholars, historians and social scientists. The conference also proved both that Animal Studies and Victorian Studies can cross-fertilise each other in very fruitful and innovative ways and that French specialists approach the subject from sometimes unexpected directions.

  • 2 A review of Beryl Gray's book, The Dog in the Dickensian Imagination (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014) wil (...)
  • 3 A list of the main books about Victorian animals is given at the end of this preface.

3Animal studies emerged as a recognised field of research in Britain several decades ago. There is not the space here to list all the researchers in the field of Victorian Animal Studies, but a few pioneering works can be mentioned. These include Coral Lansbury’s major study, The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers, and Vivisection in Edwardian England (1985), and Harriet Ritvo’s pioneering work on the history of human-animal relations in the Victorian era, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (1987). Subsequent research by historians like Hilda Kean, Kathleen Kete, Randy Malamud and Nigel Rothfels, by geographer Philip Howell, by literary scholars Deborah Denenholz Morse, Martin A. Danahay, Tess Cosslett, Beryl Gray,2 Erica Fudge and Monica Flegel, to name only some of the most prolific researchers in the field, shows that animals are now to be found in every field relevant to the study of Victorian culture and imagination.3 Special mention should also be made of Jed Mayer, who warns Victorian scholars that the recent interest in animals as discursive symbols or doubles of human beings may risk diverting attention from flesh-and-blood animals, and, in so doing, confirm their status as subaltern creatures and our domination over them. The aim of the 2016 SFEVE conference was to raise awareness about—and, for some contributors, to denounce—the dangers of such subordinating discourses.

  • 4 Michel de Montaigne was a commendable exception to the rule when he placed animals and humans on eq (...)

4While researchers in Victorian literature and culture in the English-speaking world have understood for some time the potential of studying animals, signalling an ‘animal turn’ in academic research, the subject remains very much on the margins of French Victorian studies. The reluctance to consider animals as worthy of consideration in France can be explained in part by the abiding influence here of the Judeo-Christian tradition; one that has consistently reduced animals to the level of subordinates, subject to Man’s every whim. The perception of animals in France thus remained for centuries that first set out by Saint Augustine, Descartes and Pascal, who, each in their way, reinforced a vision of animals’ subordinate status. For the Roman theologian, animals lack reason and a soul, and are therefore subject to the human will; a state of inferiority that legitimates human domination. As for the French philosopher, he endorsed the idea that animals are nothing more than God-created machines, insensitive to pain and fit only for human use and abuse. Pascal improved neither the condition nor the perception of animals when he wrote that animals’ overriding instincts prevent them from changing their condition, unlike humans whose reason allows them to progress. Claude Bernard, the French positivist physiologist and Charles Darwin’s contemporary, confirmed animals’ subordinate position when he argued that vivisection was morally justified in the name of medical progress and human well-being.4 While the theory of evolution brought a decisive cultural shift to the British worldview of the animal kingdom, French cultural attitudes were slower to change. As a result, there were few calls until recently for a more humane treatment of, and a more inclusive approach towards, animals. This may be one of the complex reasons why the field of Animal Studies is only slowly gaining ground in France.

  • 5 See for example LOurs: histoire dun roi déchu (Paris: Seuil, 2007), Les Animaux célèbres (Paris: (...)
  • 6 See for example Et l'homme créa l'animal. Histoire d'une condition (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2003), Bête (...)
  • 7 See Damien Baldin, Histoire des animaux domestiques XIXe-XXe siècles (Paris, Seuil, 2014) and Victo (...)
  • 8 More than 270 contributions ranged across a significant variety of fields: natural history, history (...)
  • 9 See http://animots.hypotheses.org/projet/project

5While critical interest in animals among French academics emerged at the same time as the ground-breaking work of Lansbury and Ritvo, research output on this side of the Channel has been slow to gather momentum. True, a number of historians began to publish on the subject in the 1980s; notably Robert Delort, who explored human history from the perspective of animals in Les Animaux ont une histoire (1985). However, it was not until the 2000s that a large body of research on the subject began to accumulate. This included Michel Pastoureau’s valuable work on medieval animals, particularly on bears and pigs that have been ill-treated by men—a subject hitherto largely neglected by historians.5 Eric Baratay followed in his footsteps, and has published widely over the last decade on all sorts of animals, both pets and beasts of burden.6 A younger generation of historians is also coming to prominence, such as Damien Baldin and Victoria Vanneau, whose research tackles the question of animal rights with a particular focus on nineteenth-century French law.7 It is worth noting in this respect that a major conference on animal-human relationships was recently organised in Rouen by the French Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques.8 It encouraged exchanges between historians and other researchers in the humanities, proving that animals are now taken seriously by researchers. French literary scholars have also recently come on board. An indication of this is ‘the Animots project’, which aims to bring together French and international scholars to explore the subject of animals and animality in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.9

6Considering the growing but largely uncoordinated body of research among France-based Victorianists into contemporary attitudes to, and representations of, the animal kingdom, the SFEVE reasoned that an international conference on Victorian animals would provide a welcome forum to encourage fresh perspectives and to give new impetus to transdisciplinary research in the field. The 2016 SFEVE conference lived up to those expectations, confirming that animals are a crucial part of research in the social sciences and humanities in general, and in Victorian studies in particular. That being said, a lot remains to be done among Victorianists in France if animals are to be given the place they deserve on the French academic scene.

  • 10 Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex [1871] (New York, Plume, 2007) (...)
  • 11 This expression is taken from the call for papers.

7In order to give consistency and depth to the conference, the organising committee chose to call for proposals linked to the theme of ‘Becoming Animal with the Victorians’. The intention was to encourage participants to embrace the animal while questioning the position of the human. The organizing committee assumed that this title would encourage contributors to draw on the Darwinian notion of the interspecies continuum. In The Descent of Man (1871), the book which first applied evolutionary theory to human evolution, Darwin famously stated: ‘Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin’.10 This quotation should remind Victorianists that they need to listen to the inner animal in order to explore the human/animal dichotomy and examine the force of humanimality in Victorian culture. The animal within could certainly help Victorians ‘run wild, forget to be human, forget to be Victorian’.11

  • 12 See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus [1980], trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapoli (...)

8But the reference to ‘becoming animal’ also hints at one of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s major concepts, developed in a number of their writings.12 While the human/non-human animal relationship is often one of dominance, Deleuze and Guattari’s work questions animal-human boundaries and rethinks the frontiers separating humans from non-human animals. Thus, new identities may emerge from shifting physical and philosophical boundaries, making it possible to achieve a new kind of freedom to become something different and other, something outside Victorian dichotomies. It is important therefore to explore Victorian animals, in representations and in history, through the lens of identity and subjectivity—the mixed and the hybrid—using the critical concept of ‘becoming animal’. Becoming animal means leaving one’s territory, freeing oneself from the constraints of cultural ideologies; ‘deterritorialising’ and ‘reterritorialising’ oneself. Therefore, by deconstructing identity itself, the frontier between human and non-human animals breaks down.

  • 13 Jacques Derrida and David Wills, The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow), Critical Inquiry, (...)

9Deleuze and Guattari’s concept also calls to mind other ground-breaking animal-related notions such as Jacques Derrida’s ‘animots’ (‘animal words’). When one starts to consider Victorian culture and history from the point of view of animals in order to restore to them power, subjectivity and a voice, Derrida’s concept becomes central. The French philosopher rejected the word ‘animal’ because it establishes a frontier beyond which humans should never pass. The hybrid term ‘animots’ coined by the author in his essay ‘The Animal that Therefore I Am’ (thus challenging Descartes’ celebrated axiom, ‘I think therefore I am’) describes words that are not human-produced.13 In this way, his animal words can break free from those cultural laws that prevent humans from giving an accurate account of what animals really are. By replacing ‘animal’ with ‘animots’ (always to be used as a plural noun), Derrida reminds readers that animal beings (and not only animal species) are varied, that they have complex relationships to human beings, and that the traditional human/animal divide is invalid. He invites us to think beyond the verbal. Thus, becoming animal in writing does not mean imitating animals but rather bringing to life and liberating the becoming-animal, a state of being that transcends the boundaries of distinct ‘species’.

  • 14 See Elisabeth de Fontenay, Le Silence des bêtes : la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (Paris: (...)
  • 15 See Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture [2005], Trans. Janet E. Lloyd (Chicago: University (...)

10Deleuze, Guattari and Derrida are not the only philosophers to place the animal question at the centre of their approach to the world and to nature. They enjoyed a privileged position at the conference, but in addition to those major voices, we also heard from other post-Cartesian French thinkers on how to explode the idea of the animal-machine and challenge dominant cultural ideologies. That is the aim of Boris Cyrulnik and Elisabeth de Fontenay;14 using philosophy to advance the cause of animal welfare by asking us to place ourselves inside the skins of animals. As for anthropologist Philippe Descola, he aims to move beyond the dichotomy of nature and culture that has dominated our relations with animals, by arguing that they and we constitute one seamless whole.15

11The articles in this volume try to define what ‘becoming-animal’ means for Victorian literature and culture. For Deleuze and Guattari, becoming is neither regressive nor progressive—just as it is non hierarchical. That is why they choose the term ‘involution’ rather than evolution or regression, two major concepts in the Victorian era that are explored by several contributors to this collection. The essays selected for this volume certainly provide ample evidence of that Victorian vision of animal species which is grounded in classification, relativity and norms. However, they also examine how Victorians grappled regularly with notions of identity and otherness; often allowing themselves to cross the frontier between species and engage with their inner animal or human side in the animals around them, thereby exploring the various forms of hybridisation that pervade the culture of the period. Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘becoming-animal’ or ‘involution’ as well as Derridas ‘animots are thus useful concepts for Victorianists who wish to explore the blurred frontier between human and non-human animals and who seek to construct a creative space for new ideologies and new aesthetic practices.

12In the context of a two-day conference it was not possible of course to cover every part of this extensive field, but the range of topics explored is sure to be of major interest to researchers in history, the history of science, literature and philosophy. A number of some common themes emerged from the kinds of questions contributors were asking. The SFEVE committee has chosen to organise discussion of these themes in two distinct volumes. This collection focuses on the wide-ranging and stimulating debates around transformation, evolution, regression and hybridization, leaving the compelling questions raised about ethics and aesthetics for a second volume.

13Throughout this volume, contributors examine how readily Victorians crossed and transcended the borders between species; whether it was to confirm the existence of an insurmountable frontier separating the human and the non-human, or—more interesting perhaps—to seek to undermine that frontier. The essays in this special issue of the Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens will make it clear that Victorians, contrary to a popular misconception, never considered animals and humans to be part of two hermetically sealed worlds. On the contrary, they were fascinated, whether morbidly or more creatively, by the intrusion of animals within their personal sphere and either thrilled or alarmed by the subsequent contamination or hybridization of human identity.

14It was decided to open this volume not with our four-legged, purring or yapping friends but with less welcoming creatures: flies. By choosing to place insects in a prominent position in this volume about human/animal relations in Victorian culture, the objective was to defamiliarize our perception of animals, to destabilize our traditional constructs of the animal world and to stimulate a fresh perception of the relationship between humans and animals. To show changing Victorian attitudes towards animals, big or small, is precisely the objective of Neil Davie’s contribution. Seemingly insignificant creatures such as house-flies are paradoxically important if we do not want to lose sight of the big picture. Indeed, when Davie explores the question of flies in expert discourses as well as in popular attitudes within a domestic bourgeois environment, he shows that these small creatures are linked to big themes, offering valuable insights into key aspects of the social history of Victorian Britain. The perception of flies in the Victorian home in the last decades of the nineteenth century thus speaks volumes about such issues as the reform of public health, scientific progress and the prominence of bourgeois morality. Davie first explores sanitary anxieties linked to the development of the food industry and waste management. He then shows that house-flies played a major role in the new approach to sanitation, as they gradually became ‘unbidden guests’ in the Victorian home. However, while flies were regularly depicted in the 1870s and 1880s as vectors of disease, they were also seen by some to possess more positive traits. Thus, they might be attributed human-like virtues, and even praised by some authors who emphasised their importance as valued members of God’s creation, requiring our respect and charity. By 1900, however, such attitudes had largely fallen out of favour; the victims of anti-fly campaigns that called for large-scale sanitary measures to limit their numbers.

15The next couple of essays bring to the fore the question of evolution, a key theme in Victorian studies. Richard Somerset and Ben Moore both study popular evolutionary theories, whether pre-or post-Darwinian, challenging the supposedly linear, gradual and teleological chain linking animals to humans. However, ‘becoming animal’ has a very different meaning for the two contributors. While for Somerset it means that antediluvian monsters are naturalised, animalised, and in a sense ‘domesticated’ by a certain type of historiography, Moore reads ‘becoming animal’ as an impossible teleological move towards progress and fulfilment.

16Somerset compares three kinds of paleontological popularisers during the period from the 1830s to the 1880s. He starts with those who focused on the monstrosity of ‘antediluvian’ beasts in order to develop a narrative of discontinuity, before moving on to those who constructed a stadial natural history of life, one which allowed creatures of the past to become animal. In the period from the 1860s to the ’80s, the evolutionist debate placed natural progress at the centre of the history of nature. In this third stage, the popularisers no longer cast antediluvian creatures as monsters, but focused rather on their relative degree of moral perfection, bringing closer together the human and the animal or, in other words, animalised men and humanised animals. This perspective involved a naturalisation of the historical process; providing both a natural explanation for all sorts of social and racial classifications, and support for a liberal ideology grounded in the principles of morality.

17Moore concentrates on a more specific, yet notable, moment in evolutionary writing. He chooses to analyse the pre-Darwinian evolutionary dream elements of Charles Kingley’s novel, Alton Locke (1850). He reads chapter 36 as both a teleologically- and theologically-oriented fantasy and as a series of ‘becomings’ that prevent the hero from regaining his wholeness or his ‘molar structure’—another Deleuze and Guattari concept. In this section called ‘Dream Land’, Locke experiences a nightmarish series of dreams in which he successively turns into all sorts of animals, starting with the lowest creatures on the evolutionary scale. Moore wittily calls Locke’s fevered episode ‘becoming-evolutionary’, since the whole chain of animals in the dream points to an impossible teleological evolution towards completeness and perfection. On the contrary, Locke undergoes transformations that often resemble regressions. Moore then highlights how series and structures function in Alton’s dream. As evolution seems to be organized in an orderly way according to serial associations, it is complicated or ‘deterritorialized’ by recurrent forms of disorder. Evolution is thus contaminated by a creative series of becomings—or ‘involutions’—that prevent progression towards completeness and that preclude Alton from ‘becoming molar’. Alton’s dream about the quest for human wholeness turns into a drive towards multiplicity; with changes always delaying completion while creating mechanical and organic ‘assemblages’. The eventual restoration of identity does not hinder this teleological fantasy from including continuous and uncontrollable elements of ‘becoming animal’.

18The focus in the articles which follow is precisely on these ‘assemblages’, in the shape of hybrids, monsters or mongrels. Béatrice Laurent’s and Nathalie Saudo Welby’s contributions challenge species boundaries, explore the cultural and social impact of human/animal hybrids, analyse the dislocation of binary oppositions, of gender or of species, and finally highlight the richness of the forms and figures of hybridity in Victorian culture and literature.

19Béatrice Laurent chooses to focus on the figure of the mermaid, a recurrent representation of hybridism in Victorian imagination and culture. The existence of such a creature raised serious scientific and ontological questions about the possibility of human-animal hybridism. Not only did the Feejee mermaid become a popular sensation in Regency London, but it was also seized upon by scientists who considered the fantastic hybrid creature to represent the missing link between aquatic and terrestrial forms of life. All sorts of more or less eccentric explanations were furnished to justify its existence, its subsequent sterility (as a hybrid produced by different species), or its asexual reproduction through parthenogenesis. Combining ontology and phylogeny, scientists and ethnologists argued that these creatures were proto-humans, not fully shaped, but transitional specimens between animals and humans and between types of races, in keeping with the popular polygenist theories of the day. Even Darwin joined the ranks of those who embraced the possible existence of mermaids when it came to supporting his theory about humankind’s ancestors originating in the oceans.

20Nathalie Saudo-Welby takes the exploration of hybrid figures one step further when she explores the multi-layered discourses on animals, the Empire and the woman question in Olive Schreiner’s late-Victorian novel, The Story of an African Farm (1883). It is through repeated references to ostriches that Schreiner explores and combines gender, colonial and animal rights questions. Saudo-Welby starts by presenting the history of ostrich farming in South Africa, a practice that clearly brings to the fore issues of land-appropriation, domination and exploitation. She then investigates the narrative and metaphorical uses of ostriches in the novel in order to consider certain social and gender issues raised by the book. First, characters display certain similarities with ostriches; a discursive strategy that allows Schreiner to denounce the predatory behaviour of strangers on the farm. Further, the specificities of the ostriches, namely the way in which males help females hatch eggs, enable Schreiner to challenge biological distinctions and gender roles. Blurring gender limits and making metaphorical and narrative discourses coalesce thus help her depict the complexity of nature that transcends binary oppositions. Finally, bird-related words and metaphors call into question human-built gender constructions and representations, contributing to elaborating Schreiner’s holistic vision of the world, where conventional boundaries have no place.

21The final group of essays, Hubert Malfray’s and Georges Letissier’s complementary readings of the construction of animality in Victorian fiction, focus on the notion of the sublime generated by the confrontation of animals and humans in critical situations. Malfray and Letissier skilfully question how some Victorian authors reflect on the possibility of becoming animals by ‘unbecoming human’. In this way, both contributors examine the contours of a new kind of identity—a sublime ‘humanimality’—that stems from the dissolution of social barriers.

22In his analysis of highwaymen in some Newgate novels, a literary genre of the 1840s that romanticizes the lives of legendary criminals, Hubert Malfray analyses the similarities in the depiction and condition of criminals and animals. Both excluded from humanity, they fuse in a hybrid identityMalfray coins the word criminanimality’—grounded in shared barbarism and deviance. However, while criminals are doomed to become animals because of their assumed bestiality, they may also be saved from total degradation precisely because they and their animal double become partners in redemption, therefore associating crime with the sublime. These novels, while ostensibly offering merely stock descriptions of sensational criminals, portray in reality, according to Malfray, erotically-charged couples that reinvent the relations between humans and animals, thereby giving a new twist to conventional representations of criminal heroes.

23Letissier’s article changes perspective by focusing on dogs and not on their masters, while continuing the previous exploration of humanimality in fiction. This chapter considers the construction of the animality and radical otherness of dogs in five Victorian novels from 1847 to 1900. Deliberately avoiding the traditional representation of the furry companion in the parlour, Letissier’s study explores the ontological notion of canine alterity. According to the author, these unconventional dogs in Victorian fiction ‘bite back’, challenging contemporary notions of decency and gentility. In Wuthering Heights and The Mill on the Floss, for example, mongrels are particularly effective at destabilising the Victorian order. Letting dogs’ instincts roam free in Wuthering Heights and Oliver Twist, Emily Brontë and Charles Dickens bring chaos to the literary scene and to conventional notions of Victorian gentility. Their dogs participate in the dissolution of social boundaries and even embody occult forces beyond human comprehension. Finally, canine characters allow Joseph Conrad in Lord Jim and Thomas Hardy in Far from the Madding Crowd to explore ontological questions that are central to the modern human consciousness. In a world that refuses to be teleological, Hardy’s dogs are elevated to the level of sublime while Conrad’s help engage with a sense of otherness and a form of inverted sublime that is characteristic of the modernist mind-set.

24It is to be hoped that readers will find in these essays a stimulating and suggestive starting point for the further study of animals in Victorian literature and culture, and that more and more French scholars will be encouraged to draw on this perspective in their own research. This collection demonstrates convincingly that there is indeed much to be gained from such a choice, for seen through the lens of ‘humanimality’, it is impossible not to see Victorian Britain in a strikingly new light.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Amato, Sarah. Beastly Possessions: Animals in Victorian Consumer Culture. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2015.

Colley, Ann C. Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain: Zoos, Collections, Portraits and Maps. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.

Cosslett, Tess. Talking Animals in British Children’s Fiction 17861914. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

Cronin, Helena. The Ant and the Peacock: Altruism and Sexual Selection from Darwin to Today. Cambridge: CUP, 1991.

Denenholz Morse, Deborah, and Martin A. Danahay, eds. Victorian Animal Dreams: Representations of Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

Donald, Diana. Picturing Animals in Britain 17501850. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007.

Dorré, Gina. Victorian Fiction and the Cult of the Horse. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

Flegel, Monica. Pets and Domesticity in Victorian Literature and Culture: Animality, Queer Relations, and the Victorian Family. New York and London: Routledge, 2015.

Fudge, Erica. Pets. Stockfield: Acumen, 2008.

Gates, Barbara. In Nature’s Name: An Anthology of Women’s Writing and Illustration 1780–1930. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002.

Gray, Beryl. The Dog in the Dickensian Imagination. Farnham: Ashgate, 2014.

Howell, Philip. ‘A Place for the Animal Dead: Pets, Pet Cemeteries and Animal Ethics in Late Victorian Britain’. Ethics, Place and Environment 5.1 (2002).

Kean, Hilda. Animal Rights: Political and Social Change in Britain since 1800. London: Reaktion Books, 1998.

Kete, Kathleen. The Beast in the Boudoir. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1994.

Kete, Kathleen. ed. A Cultural History of Animals in the Age of Empire. vol. 5. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009.

Lansbury, Coral. The Old Brown Dog: Women, Workers, and Vivisection in Edwardian England. Madison. WI.: The University of Wisconsin, 1985.

Malamud, Randy. Reading Zoos: Representations of Animals and Captivity. New York: New York UP, 1998.

Mayer, Jed. ‘Ways of Reading Animals in Victorian Literature, Culture and Science’. Literature Compass 7.5 (2010): 347–57.

Moine, Fabienne. ‘Manipulating the Animal’ in Women Poets in the Victorian Era: Cultural Practices and Nature Poetry. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015: 151–213.

Ritvo, Harriet. The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1987.

Ritvo, Harriet. The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998.

Rothfels, Nigel, ed. Representing Animals. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2002.

Surridge, Lisa. ‘Dogs’ Bodies, Women’s Bodies: Wives as Pets in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Domestic Violence’. Victorian Review 20.1 (1994): 1–34.

Haut de page

Notes

1 ‘Becoming Animal with the Victorians’ was held at the University Paris Diderot on 4-5 February 2016 and was co-organized by Sara Thornton, Laurence Roussillon, Michel Prum and Fabienne Moine.

2 A review of Beryl Gray's book, The Dog in the Dickensian Imagination (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2014) will be found in the book reviews column of this volume.

3 A list of the main books about Victorian animals is given at the end of this preface.

4 Michel de Montaigne was a commendable exception to the rule when he placed animals and humans on equal footing, both capable of thinking and communicating, in his Essays (Book II, Chapter 12).

5 See for example LOurs: histoire dun roi déchu (Paris: Seuil, 2007), Les Animaux célèbres (Paris: Arléa, 2008), Le Cochon: histoire d'un cousin mal aimé (Paris: Gallimard, 2009).

6 See for example Et l'homme créa l'animal. Histoire d'une condition (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2003), Bêtes de somme : des animaux au service des hommes (Paris: Seuil, 2008), Le Point de vue animal. Une autre version de l’histoire (Paris: Seuil, 2012).

7 See Damien Baldin, Histoire des animaux domestiques XIXe-XXe siècles (Paris, Seuil, 2014) and Victoria Vanneau, Le Chien : histoire d’un objet de compagnie (Paris: Autrement, 2014).

8 More than 270 contributions ranged across a significant variety of fields: natural history, history, law, philosophy, archaeology, art history, ethnology, literature, advertising, graphic novels, linguistics…

9 See http://animots.hypotheses.org/projet/project

10 Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex [1871] (New York, Plume, 2007) 416.

11 This expression is taken from the call for papers.

12 See Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus [1980], trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1987) and more precisely chapter 10 dedicated to the concept of ‘becoming’ and ‘becoming-animal’ in particular.

13 Jacques Derrida and David Wills, The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow), Critical Inquiry, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Winter, 2002) 369-418.

14 See Elisabeth de Fontenay, Le Silence des bêtes : la philosophie à l’épreuve de l’animalité (Paris: Fayard, 1998) and Sans offenser le genre humain : réflexions sur la cause animale (Paris: Albin Michel, 2008) and Boris Cyrulnik, Mémoire de singe et paroles d’homme (Paris: Hachette/pluriel, 1984). See also Les Animaux aussi ont des droits (Paris: Seuil, 2013), cowritten by Boris Cyrulnik, Elisabeth de Fontenay and the Australian philosopher Peter Singer.

15 See Philippe Descola, Beyond Nature and Culture [2005], Trans. Janet E. Lloyd (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Fabienne Moine, « Why Animals Can Make Us Better Victorianists », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 85 Printemps | 2017, mis en ligne le 21 mars 2017, consulté le 19 août 2017. URL : http://cve.revues.org/3150

Haut de page

Auteur

Fabienne Moine

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée
  • Logo ERIH +
  • Revues.org