The Animal Claim: Sensibility And The Creaturely Voice

Hardcover | April 10, 2015

byTobias Menely

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During the eighteenth century, some of the most popular British poetry showed a responsiveness to animals that anticipated the later language of animal rights. Such poems were widely cited in later years by legislators advocating animal welfare laws like Martin’s Act of 1822, which provided protections for livestock. In The Animal Claim, Tobias Menely links this poetics of sensibility with Enlightenment political philosophy, the rise of the humanitarian public, and the fate of sentimentality, as well as longstanding theoretical questions about voice as a medium of communication.    
      
In the Restoration and eighteenth century, philosophers emphasized the role of sympathy in collective life and began regarding the passionate expression humans share with animals, rather than the spoken or written word, as the elemental medium of community. Menely shows how poetry came to represent this creaturely voice and, by virtue of this advocacy, facilitated the development of a viable discourse of animal rights in the emerging public sphere. Placing sensibility in dialogue with classical and early-modern antecedents as well as contemporary animal studies, The Animal Claim uncovers crucial connections between eighteenth-century poetry; theories of communication; and post-absolutist, rights-based politics.  

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During the eighteenth century, some of the most popular British poetry showed a responsiveness to animals that anticipated the later language of animal rights. Such poems were widely cited in later years by legislators advocating animal welfare laws like Martin’s Act of 1822, which provided protections for livestock. In The Animal Clai...

Tobias Menely is assistant professor of English at the University of California, Davis.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:April 10, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022623925X

ISBN - 13:9780226239255

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1. The Significant Voice: Address and the Animal Sign
Chapter 2. Creaturely Origins: Enlightenment Naturalism and the Animal Voice
Chapter 3. The Addressive Animal: The Augustans and “Tyrant Custom”  
Chapter 4. Creaturely Advocacy: Poetic Vocation in the Age of Sensibility           
Chapter 5. Sensibilities into Statutes: Animal Rights and the Afterlife of Sensibility
Afterword: The Law and the Factory           
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Readers will come away from this remarkable book reconsidering many of their ideas about the eighteenth century. Among its many accomplishments, The Animal Claim demonstrates the centrality of poetry not only to the period’s literature but also to the history of political advocacy. With its emphasis on sound and metaphor, its ability to convey affective pressures in excess of word and idea, poetry remediates the unrecognized creaturely voice and represents it—in both the linguistic and political senses of representation—in the public sphere. Menely reminds us that criticism at its finest can be passionate work.”