The Animal Surreal : The Role of Darwin, Animals, and Evolution in Surrealism book cover
1st Edition

The Animal Surreal
The Role of Darwin, Animals, and Evolution in Surrealism

ISBN 9780367787233
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
180 Pages

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Book Description

The Animal Surreal situates Surrealism within the burgeoning field of Animal Studies by examining Surrealist representations of nonhuman animals through the lens of Darwinian theory. Unlike Marx and Freud, Darwin was rarely cited by name as a source for the Surrealists, and yet his influence is present in various ways, such as the frequent inclusion of "natural history" imagery and the exploration of themes of mutability and mutation. Animals and our relationship to them furthermore constitute a significant source of inquiry for Surrealism, as evidenced by Max Ernst’s human-bird alter-ego Loplop, their avid interest in the praying mantis, the adoption of the Minotaur as emblem, and the frequently recurring birds, insects, horses, dogs, cats, giraffes, elephants, lions, and cows, among others, represented in Surrealist poetry, painting, and film. The Animal Surreal proposes that the Surrealists portrayed such animals as if they were literal embodiments of Surrealist themes such as the marvelous and the uncanny, and it documents the numerous ways in which the Surrealists willfully engaged the politics of the animal other in ways that implicitly, and on occasion explicitly, challenged what Freud would call "human narcissism."

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Chapter 1: An Introduction to Animals, Darwin, and Surrealism

Chapter 2: The Darwinian Uncanny

Chapter 3: A Darwinian Marvelous

Chapter 4: Les Espaces des Animaux: The Politics of Space in Human-Animal Relationships

Chapter 5: Hybridity, Variability, and Mutation

Chapter 6: Max Ernst, Loplop, Totems, and Taboos

Chapter 7: Les Animaux et leurs femmes, les femmes et leurs animaux

Chapter 8: Madness, Animals, Automatons, Automatism

Chapter 9: Human Animality: Natural and Sexual Selection in the films of Luis Buñuel

Chapter 10: The Other Darwinism: Surrealism and Social Darwinism

Chapter 11: Animality, Documents, and the Early Bataille

Chapter 12: Humans, Animals, and Sacrifice in Bataille’s Later Writing

Notes on Surrealist Participants

Works Cited

Author and Artist Index

Subject Index

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Kirsten Strom is a professor of art history at Grand Valley State University where she was a recipient of the Pew Teaching Excellence Award. She has published articles and book chapters on a range of topics including postmodern design, "dance anthropology," animal studies, and Surrealism.