The Accommodated Animal

The Accommodated Animal

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Shakespeare wrote of lions, shrews, horned toads, curs, mastiffs, and hellhounds. But the word a€œanimala€ itself only appears very rarely in his work, which was in keeping with sixteenth-century usage. As Laurie Shannon reveals in The Accommodated Animal, the modern human / animal divide first came strongly into play in the seventeenth century, with Descartesa€™s famous formulation that reason sets humans above other species: a€œI think, therefore I am.a€ Before that moment, animals could claim a firmer place alongside humans in a larger vision of belonging, or what she terms cosmopolity. With Shakespeare as her touchstone, Shannon explores the creaturely dispensation that existed until Descartes. She finds that early modern writers used classical natural history and readings of Genesis to credit animals with various kinds of stakeholdership, prerogative, and entitlement, employing the language of politics in a constitutional vision of cosmic membership. Using this political idiom to frame cross-species relations, Shannon argues, carried with it the notion that animals possess their own investments in the world, a point distinct from the question of whether animals have reason. It also enabled a sharp critique of the tyranny of humankind. By answering a€œthe question of the animala€ historically, The Accommodated Animal makes a brilliant contribution to cross-disciplinary debates engaging animal studies, political theory, intellectual history, and literary studies.Northwestern University and Duke University provided me precious time for research and writing. For opportunities to test the legs of these ideas over the years and for helpful prompts and prods on diverse occasions, I thank Rebecca Ann Bach, ... I thank the booka#39;s readers at the University of Chicago xi Acknowledgments.

Title:The Accommodated Animal
Author:Laurie Shannon
Publisher:University of Chicago Press - 2013-01-02


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