Animal Acts records the history of the fluctuating boundary between animals and humans as expressed in literary, philosophical and scientific texts, as well as visual arts and historical practices such as dissection, circus acts, the hunt and zoos. The essays document a persistent return of animality, a becoming animal that has always existed within and at the margins of Western Culture from the Middle Ages to the present.
Introduction 1. Human Beasts and Bestial Humans in the Middle Ages 2. The Philosophical Beast: On Boccaccio’s Tale of Cimone 3. Pantagruel-Animal 4. "When the Beasts Spoke": Animal Speech and Classical Reason in Descartes and La Fontaine 5. Revolutionary Monsters 6. Audubon’s Ornithological Biography and the Question of "Other Minds" 7. What Is "Human"? Metaphysics and Zoontology in Flaubert and Kafka 8. Taming the Beast: Animality in Wedekind and Nietzsche, 9. On Being 'The Last Kantian in Nazi Germany": Dwelling with Animals after Levinas 10. Animal Speech, Active Verbs, and Material Being in E. B. White 11. "Surely, God, These Are My Kin": The Dynamics of Identity and Advocacy in the Life and Works of Dian Fossey 12. Humanimals and Anihumans in Gary Larson's Gallery of the Absurd
"The volume contains impressively scholarly essays...an altogether interesting...collection." -- New Comparison
"An acute sensitivity about the subjugated status of animals, that is, an ethical consciousness, informs the essays." -- Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences