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Imperfect Creatures

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ISBN: 9780472119738 9780472900626 9780472900633 Year: Pages: 240 DOI: 10.3998/mpub.4424519 Language: English
Publisher: University of Michigan Press Grant: Knowledge Unlatched - 103491
Subject: Languages and Literatures
Added to DOAB on : 2016-05-22 11:01:03
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Abstract

Lucinda Cole’s Imperfect Creatures offers the first full-length study of the shifting, unstable, but foundational status of “vermin” as creatures and category in the early modern literary, scientific, and political imagination. In the space between theology and an emergent empiricism, Cole’s argument engages a wide historical swath of canonical early modern literary texts—William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, Abraham Cowley’s The Plagues of Egypt, Thomas Shadwell’s The Virtuoso, the Earl of Rochester’s “A Ramble in St. James’s Park,” and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Journal of the Plague Year—alongside other nonliterary primary sources and under-examined archival materials from the period, including treatises on animal trials, grain shortages, rabies, and comparative neuroanatomy. As Cole illustrates, human health and demographic problems—notably those of feeding populations periodically stricken by hunger, disease, and famine—were tied to larger questions about food supplies, property laws, national identity, and the theological imperatives that underwrote humankind’s claim to dominion over the animal kingdom. In this context, Cole’s study indicates, so-called “vermin” occupied liminal spaces between subject and object, nature and animal, animal and the devil, the devil and disease—even reason and madness. This verminous discourse formed a foundational category used to carve out humankind’s relationship to an unpredictable, irrational natural world, but it evolved into a form for thinking about not merely animals but anything that threatened the health of the body politic—humans, animals, and even thoughts.

Keywords

literature --- nature --- animals

Animal Umwelten in a Changing world: Zoosemiotic Perspectives

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Book Series: Tartu Semiotics Library ISBN: 9789949772810 Year: Pages: 276 DOI: 10.26530/OAPEN_620672 Language: English
Publisher: University of Tartu Press
Subject: Animal Sciences --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-12-06 11:01:04
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The book raises semiotic questions of human–animal relations: what is the semiotic character of different species, how humans endow animals with meaning, and how animal sign exchange and communication has coped with environmental change. The book takes a zoosemiotic approach and considers different species as being integrated with the environment via their specific umwelt or subjective perceptual world. The authors elaborate J. v. Uexküll’s concept of umwelt to make it applicable for analyzing complex and dynamical interactions between animals, humans, environment and culture. The opening chapters of the book present a framework for philosophical, historical, epistemological and methodological aspects of zoosemiotic research. These initial considerations are followed by specific case studies: on human–animal interactions in zoological gardens, communication in the teams of visually disabled persons and guiding dogs, semiotics of the animal condition in philosophy, historical changes in the role of animals in human households, the semiotics of predation, cultural perception of novel species, and other topics. The authors belong to the research group in zoosemiotics and human–animal relations based in the Department of Semiotics at the University of Tartu in Estonia, and in the University of Stavanger in Norway.

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2016 (2)