Reading Literary Animals: Medieval to Modern, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reading Literary Animals

Medieval to Modern, 1st Edition

Edited by Karen L. Edwards, Derek Ryan, Jane Spencer


290 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Reading Literary Animals explores the status and representation of animals in literature from the Middle Ages to the present day. Essays by leading scholars in the field examine various figurative, agential, imaginative, ethical, and affective aspects of literary encounters with animality, showing how practices of close reading provoke new ways of thinking about animals and the texts in which they appear. Through investigations of works by Shakespeare, Aphra Behn, William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and Ted Hughes, among many others, Reading Literary Animals demonstrates the value of distinctively literary animal studies.

Table of Contents



Karen L. Edwards, Derek Ryan, Jane Spencer


Part I Testing Metaphor

1. Entities in the World: Intertextuality in Medieval Bestiaries and Fables

Carolynn Van Dyke

2. Una’s ‘Milkewhite Lambe’

Karen L. Edwards

3. Behn’s Beasts: Aesop’s Fables and Surinam’s Wildlife in Oroonoko

Jane Spencer


Part II Plotting Agency

4. Shakespeare’s Animal Parts

Philip Armstrong

5. Exit Pursuing a Human: Performing Animals on the Early Modern Stage

Andy Kesson  

6. Collaborative Agency: Animals in Hardy’s Rural Novels

Virginia Richter


Part III Inscribing Voice

7. Counting Animals: Nonhuman Voices in Lear and Carroll

Kaori Nagai

8. ‘What am I?’: Locating the Indeterminate Voices of Ted Hughes’s Animal Poems

Carrie Smith

9. "Thou, Spotted Eros": Love Poetry, Taxonomy, and the Erotics of Adamic Naming

Matthew Margini

Part IV Exploiting Bodies

10. The Hunting of the Hare: Female Virtue and Companionate Marriage in Henry Fielding’s Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones

Adela Ramos

11. "Filth and Fat and Blood and Foam": Animal Capital, Commodified Meat, and the "Human" in Great Expectations

Jennifer McDonell

12. Fiction, Fashion, and the Victorian Fur Seal Hunt

John Miller

Part V Loving Dogs

13. Animal Intimacies: Cross-Species Affect and the Lapdog Lyric

Laura Brown

14. Anthropomorphism, Personification and Humanization in William Wordsworth’s Dog Poems

James P. Carson


15. "Was it Flush, or was it Pan?": Virginia Woolf, Ethel Smyth, and Canine Biography

Derek Ryan

About the Editors

Karen L. Edwards is Professor of English at the University of Exeter, UK.

Derek Ryan is Senior Lecturer in Modernist Literature at the University of Kent, UK.

Jane Spencer is Professor of English at the University of Exeter, UK.

About the Series

Perspectives on the Non-Human in Literature and Culture

In recent years, many disciplines within the humanities have become increasingly concerned with non-human actors and entities. The environment, animals, machines, objects, weather, and other non-human beings and things have taken center stage to challenge assumptions about what we have traditionally called "the human." Informed by theoretical approaches like posthumanism, the new materialisms, (including Actor Network Theory, Object-Oriented Ontology, and similar approaches) ecocriticism, and critical animal studies, such scholarship has until now had no separate and identifiable collective home at an academic press. This series will provide that home, publishing work that shares a concern with the non-human in literary and cultural studies. The series invites single-authored books and essay collections that focus primarily on literary texts, but from an interdisciplinary, theoretically-informed perspective; it will include work that crosses geographical and period boundaries. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / Subjects & Themes / Nature