HOLIDAY SALE! Get 40% off all titles plus free shipping with discount code HOLIDAY21-FM at checkout.

We are experiencing COVID-related supply chain delays. Please note, orders are currently taking 10-15 days to be delivered.
We thank you for your understanding and patience.
Penn Press logo
Animals and Other People
Search the full text of this book:

Powered by Google

Animals and Other People
Literary Forms and Living Beings in the Long Eighteenth Century

Heather Keenleyside

280 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth 2016 | ISBN 9780812248579 | $75.00s | Outside the Americas £60.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
View table of contents

Shortlisted for the 2017 Indiana Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies Kenshur Prize

"Heather Keenleyside makes a significant contribution to ongoing discussions of the challenges involved in understanding the relationship between actual individual animals and the aesthetic, generic, rhetorical, and formal uses of animals in literature. With subtle, extended, and insightful critiques of well-chosen literary texts, her book provides a persuasive perspective on its key contribution, that 'rhetorical conventions make real world claims'—in other words, that real animals provide a direct point of reference for their literary representation."—Laura Brown, Cornell University
In Animals and Other People, Heather Keenleyside argues for the central role of literary modes of knowledge in apprehending animal life. Keenleyside focuses on writers who populate their poetry, novels, and children's stories with conspicuously figurative animals, experiment with conventional genres like the beast fable, and write the "lives" of mice as well as men. From such writers—including James Thomson, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne, Anna Letitia Barbauld, and others—she recovers a key insight about the representation of living beings: when we think and write about animals, we are never in the territory of strictly literal description, relying solely on the evidence of our senses. Indeed, any description of animals involves personification of a sort, if we understand personification not as a rhetorical ornament but as a fundamental part of our descriptive and conceptual repertoire, essential for distinguishing living beings from things.

Throughout the book, animals are characterized by a distinctive mode of agency and generality; they are at once moving and being moved, at once individual beings and generic or species figures (every cat is also "The Cat"). Animals thus become figures with which to think about key philosophical questions about the nature of human agency and of social and political community. They also come into view as potential participants in that community, as one sort of "people" among others. Demonstrating the centrality of animals to an eighteenth-century literary and philosophical tradition, Animals and Other People also argues for the importance of this tradition to current discussions of what life is and how we might live together.

Heather Keenleyside teaches English at the University of Chicago.

View your shopping cart | Browse Penn Press titles in Literature, Cultural Studies | Join our mailing list

Penn Press | Site Use and Privacy Policy
Report Accessibility Issues and Get Help | University of Pennsylvania
Copyright © 2021 University of Pennsylvania Press | All rights reserved