Victorian Animal Dreams: Representations of Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Victorian Animal Dreams

Representations of Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture, 1st Edition

By Martin A. Danahay

Edited by Deborah Denenholz Morse


322 pages

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The Victorian period witnessed the beginning of a debate on the status of animals that continues today. This volume explicitly acknowledges the way twenty-first-century deliberations about animal rights and the fact of past and prospective animal extinction haunt the discussion of the Victorians' obsession with animals. Combining close attention to historical detail with a sophisticated analytical framework, the contributors examine the various forms of human dominion over animals, including imaginative possession of animals in the realms of fiction, performance, and the visual arts, as well as physical control as manifest in hunting, killing, vivisection and zookeeping. The diverse range of topics, analyzed from a contemporary perspective, makes the volume a significant contribution to Victorian studies. The conclusion by Harriet Ritvo, the pre-eminent authority in the field of Victorian/animal studies, provides valuable insight into the burgeoning field of animal studies and points toward future studies of animals in the Victorian period.


'Danahay and Morse have provided Victorianists and students of animal studies with a valuable and timely collection. Ranging from studies of beetlemania to elephant slaughter and the market for whale meat, the diverse essays included here illuminate the complexities of Victorian love of and desire for dominance over the natural world.' Barbara T. Gates, University of Delaware, USA ’… a particularly welcome addition to Victorian scholarship and to the emerging field of animal studies … Uniformly well written and engaged with emerging scholarship on the Victorians and animals, these essays address a variety of canonical and noncanonical texts from the Victorian age. Recommended.’ Choice ’… essential reading for all scholars in animal studies … anyone who teaches the subject will certainly find things in here to recommend to students …’ British Society for Literature and Science ’If one wanted to begin a research project, design a seminar, or write a lecture on Victorian animals, this volume would be an excellent place to start. … all of the essays in the collection uncover valuable new material. … Overall, the collection presents an admirable scholarly depth and purchase on historical and literary detail, suggesting that this new field of Victorian animal studies has reached a point of substantive maturity and that it deserves serious attention and wider recognition among Victorianists.’ Victorian Studies

Table of Contents

Contents: General editor's preface; Introduction, Deborah Denenholz Morse and Martin A. Danahay. Part I Science and Sentiment: Animal angst: Victorians memorialize their pets, Teresa Mangum; Victorian beetlemania, Cannon Schmitt; Killing elephants: pathos and prestige in the 19th century, Nigel Rothfels; Designs after nature: evolutionary fashions, animals and gender, Susan David Bernstein; Dying like a dog in Great Expectations, Ivan Kreilkamp. Part II Sex and Violence: Nature red in hoof and paw: domestic animals and violence in Victorian culture, Martin A. Danahay; 'The crossing o' breeds' in The Mill on the Floss, Mary Jean Corbett; Horses and social/sexual dominance, Elsie B. Michie; Pacific harvests: whales and albatrosses in 19th-century markets, Anca Vlasopolos. Part III Sin and Bestiality: 'The mark of the beast': animals as sites of imperial encounter from Wuthering Heights to Green Mansions, Deborah Denenholz Morse; Beastly criminals and criminal beasts: stray women and stray dogs in Oliver Twist, Grace Moore; The sin of sloths: the moral status of fossil megatheria in Victorian culture, Alan Rauch; Tiger tales, Heather Schell; The empire bites back: the racialized crocodile of the 19th century, Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge;Afterword, Harriet Ritvo; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Deborah Denenholz Morse is Associate Professor of English at the College of William and Mary, USA. Martin A. Danahay is Professor of English at Brock University, Canada.

About the Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series

The Nineteenth Century Series aims to develop and promote new approaches and fresh directions in scholarship and criticism on nineteenth-century literature and culture. The series encourages work which erodes the traditional boundary between Romantic and Victorian studies and welcomes interdisciplinary approaches to the literary, religious, scientific and visual cultures of the period. While British literature and culture are the core subject matter of monographs and collections in the series,  the editors encourage proposals which explore the wider, international contexts of nineteenth-century literature – transatlantic, European and global.  Print culture, including studies in the newspaper and periodical press, book history, life writing and gender studies are particular strengths of this established series as are high quality single author studies.  The series also embraces research in the field of digital humanities. The editors invite proposals from both younger and established scholars in all areas of nineteenth-century literary studies. 

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature