Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out

Heholt, Ruth (2019) Gothic Animals: Uncanny Otherness and the Animal With-Out. Studies in Animals and Literature’ . Palgrave Macmillan, London. ISBN unknown (In Press)

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Abstract / Summary

Gothic Animals provides a fresh and original approach to the subject of animals in literature and other media. Beginning with the premise that the presence of non-human creatures causes an always-already uncanny rift in human assumptions about reality, this volume explores the dark side of animal nature and the ‘otherness’ of animals as viewed by humans. Using cutting edge theory on non-human animals, the post-human, eco-criticism, literary and cultural theory, Gothic Animals takes the scholarship of a much-discussed genre into new territory. Following Darwin’s theories of evolution, nineteenth-century fiction quickly picked up on the idea of the ‘animal within’ with texts like R.L. Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and H.G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau. In these novels the fear explored was of an unruly, defiant, degenerate and entirely amoral animality lying (mostly) dormant within all of us. This was our animal-other associated with the id: passions, appetites and capable of a complete disregard for all taboos and any restraint. As Cyndy Hendershot states, this ‘animal within’ ‘threatened to usurp masculine rationality and return man to a state of irrational chaos’ (The Animal Within, p. 97). This however, relates the animal to the human in a very specific, anthropocentric way. Non-humans and humans have other sorts of encounters too, and even before Darwin humans have often had an uneasy relationship with animals. Rats, horses, dogs, cats, birds, insects and other beasts have, as Donna Haraway puts it, a way of ‘looking back’ at us (When Species Meet, p. 19). Animals of all sorts have an entirely different and separate life to humans and in fiction this often morphs into Gothic horror. In these cases it is not about the ‘animal within’ but rather the animal ‘with-out’: Other and entirely incomprehensible. The proposed collection will conflate animal studies, Gothic studies and new theories on the post-human in a new and original way. There is no other extended study that looks at animals and the Gothic.

The collection will provide a new take on questions about humanity, the Gothic and the non-human; questions that have perhaps only recently been created by animal studies. In this way it anticipates a gap in the study of both the Gothic and animals. Both are growing areas of scholarly debate and this new volume should be appealing to academics, students and interested sections of the general public.

Item Type: Book
ISBN: unknown
Subjects: Writing & Journalism > Literature > English Literature
Film & TV
Writing & Journalism > Literature
Courses by Department: The School of Writing & Journalism > English & Writing
Depositing User: Ruth Heholt
Date Deposited: 10 May 2019 12:05
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 12:05
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/3271

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