Re-imagining the Animal in J.M. Coetzee’s 'The Lives of Animals'. Unsettling Boundaries of Representation


Master's Thesis, 2019

140 Pages, Grade: A


Excerpt


Contents

I. Acknowledgements

II. Abstract

Introduction

Chapter One: Studying The Lives of Animals — Situation, Reception and Theory
1.1. Introduction
1.2. Situating The Lives of Animals
1.3. Critical Reception
1.4. A Posthumanist Reading
1.5. Conclusion

Chapter Two: Coetzee and Unsettling Boundaries of (Re)presentation
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Coetzee’s Multimodal Metafiction
2.3. Coetzee’s Relation to The Lives of Animals
2.4. Coetzee’s Multi-layered Responses
2.5. Conclusion

Chapter Three: Disconnections in The Lives of Animals
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Human versus Animal
3.3. Reason versus Feeling
3.4. Rationality versus Imagination
3.5. Conclusion

Chapter Four: Establishing Connections in The Lives of Animals
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Elizabeth and the Animal
4.3. Rational Feelings and Human-Animal Interconnection
4.4. Imaginative Realities and Human-Animal Relations
4.5. Conclusion

Conclusion

Bibliography

I. Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my supervisors, Prof Marius Crous and Dr Jakub Siwak, for guiding me through my labyrinthine imaginings. Thank you to the RCD at Nelson Mandela University for providing me with a Post Graduate Research Scholarship, which funded this study. Thank you to Prof Mary West for introducing me to a book that has challenged, taught and inspired me in more ways than I could have imagined. Thanks also to Wesley Halgreen for reading and commenting. Thanks to my family and loved ones who have supported and loved me through my studies, I appreciate you all very much. Though they will be indifferent to their acknowledgement here, I would still like to thank Molly and Tego, who have taught me much about the joy of life and have kept me sane with our daily walks in our beloved Sardinia Bay.

II. ABSTRACT

J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (1999) is a literary representation of, and intervention into, human-animal relations. It is an experimental literary destabilisation of the generic boundaries that underlie the systematic (mis)representation and (mis)treatment of nonhuman animals, specifically their mass commodification in contemporary societies. The text provides a critique and negotiation of anthropocentric reason and its ramifications for nonhuman animals. This study focuses on how Coetzee’s narrative problematises dominant discourses through questioning their authority and offering alternatives to anthropocentric conceptions of the animal that are based upon reason-centred and dualistic thought. The duality of human versus animal is explored alongside other dualities deconstructed in the text, such as fiction versus nonfiction, and philosophy versus literature. Coetzee’s representation of these constructs and their interconnectedness is investigated, specifically with regards to positively developing human-animal relations. Through exploring what Coetzee calls the ‘sympathetic imagination’, his alternative contribution to the field of human-animal relations will be considered. This study focuses on the space for re-imagination that Coetzee has provided with The Lives of Animals. It highlights the role literature can and ought to play in this reimagination, and why this re-imagination is necessary for the development of human-animal relations. Posthumanism will be used as a theoretical lens throughout, as it appears to resonate closely with Coetzee’s project. Both the form and the content of the text will be analysed, highlighting their interconnected significance in Coetzee’s project and the continued relevance of interventions such as this.

Introduction

Animal’ is a term with broad and complex underpinnings and connotations, some of which are brought to light in J.M. Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals (1999). Through analysing Coetzee’s representation of ‘the lives of animals’ in the text, this study explores the complexity of human-animal relations. This complexity is mirrored in the text’s multifaceted form and content, and the intricate interaction between them. The Lives of Animals unsettles many conventional boundaries of representation in its multi-layered re-imagination of the animal, which is what forms the core of this study.

The Lives of Animals crosses different boundaries of genre and mode. It was originally presented by Coetzee as an academic lecture and published two years later as a literary text. In 1997, Coetzee delivered a lecture at the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at Princeton University1 under the title ‘The Lives of Animals’. It consisted of two short stories titled ‘The Philosophers and the Animals’ and ‘The Poets and the Animals’. Significantly, these are also the titles of the two lectures delivered within these stories by the protagonist, Elizabeth Costello, who is considered by many critics to be Coetzee’s fictional alter ego. Boundaries between literature and philosophy, fiction and non-fiction, as well as vocal presentation and written representation are unsettled in this work. The University Center for Human Values Series' version of The Lives of Animals (Coetzee, 1999) is used in this study, as it adds significant value in its reflection of the original form and context of Coetzee’s work. This version of the text includes an introduction by Amy Gutmann2 and a section at the end titled Reflections (1999: 71), which consists of four scholarly essays written by academics3 in response to Coetzee’s multi-faceted and controversial work.

The Lives of Animals is not only controversial due to its multi-layered, unconventional form(s), but also its content, which unsettles boundaries in its equally unconventional arguments about animals. Coetzee brings dominant Western discourses surrounding animals and human-animal relations under scrutiny and encourages a rethinking of normative and rigid constructs which he reveals as radically problematic. In relation to the title, The Lives of Animals, ‘animals’ is a term that, in common usage, reduces all creatures that are not human into one category. It also insinuates that humans are not animals.4 This conception thereby ‘others’ the animal. Since the emergence of modern Western philosophy, and specifically that of Descartes, “individual consciousness has been taken as the privileged centre of identity while ‘the other’ is seen as an epistemological problem, or as an infer ior, reduced, or negated form of the ‘same’” (Castle, 2011: 1). In this study, the term ‘other’ is used according to this characterisation, which involves the marginalisation of all beings excluded from, and subordinated by, a central construct and standard of ‘human’.5 In light of this, the term ‘the animal’ used throughout this study refers to both human and other animals, resisting a rigid human-animal ideological divide and the denial that humans are, in fact, animals. Thus, my reading of The Lives of Animals includes the inter-related lives of all animals, human and nonhuman.6

Such a reading of the text encompasses the life of the human protagonist, Elizabeth Costello.7 The two linked stories that make up the text are about the visit of Elizabeth, a well- known Australian novelist, to the prestigious Appleton College to deliver “the annual Gates Lecture” and a seminar in the literature department (1999: 16). Her topic in these lectures is the animal, specifically the (mis)representation and (mis)treatment of nonhuman animals by humans. She criticises the way nonhuman animals have been and are systematically mistreated by humans not only literally, but particularly by the philosophers and the poets who misrepresent them. In other words, she focuses on ideology and representation, which she sees as lying at the root of what she calls a “crime of stupefying proportions” (1999: 69) against nonhuman animals in contemporary societies. This ‘crime’ is in the form of the mass and systematic cruelty involved in nonhuman animal commodification, which has reached an alltime high in contemporary societies.

Though Elizabeth is wary of all human representation of the nonhuman animal, she particularly and controversially rejects philosophy as a way of studying and relating to the nonhuman animal. She specifically denounces dualistic conceptions of human-animal relations, revealing the ideological disconnections inherent in such philosophy. Rather, she proposes literature as a means of developing what she calls the “sympathetic imagination” (1999: 35), which she says is what is lacking in the attitudes towards nonhuman animals and their mass suffering in contemporary societies. The sympathetic imagination is a kind of empathy felt through imagining oneself as the other by re-imagining the other rather as another, or what Elizabeth calls “the ‘another’” (1999: 35). Ironically, Elizabeth shows and receives little empathy in the text, as other characters struggle to relate or connect to her as a fellow human being. To add to this irony, though the work is titled The Lives of Animals, Coetzee refuses to represent the nonhuman animal in the text, which consists only of human characters. This study argues that these narrative disconnections are deliberate and thought-provoking moves by Coetzee, who plays on irony and uncertainty throughout the text.

The multi-faceted form and context of Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals reflects the complexity of its content. In the text, Coetzee points out the inevitable limitations of representations of the nonhuman animal by humans, refusing to attempt his own representation of them. He uses limitation in his representations as a means to challenge authority. Bell notes this in his assertion that just as “Kant established the power of human reason by defining its limits, so Coetzee affirms a deed and a form of power through his insistence on limitation” (2013: 33). This ‘power’ derived from exposing the limitations of a system through the (mis)use of that very system is exemplified in various ways in the text’s content and form.

In light of this, the following study examines Coetzee’s deliberate staging of these limitations as a means to bring them to light, and also as a reflection of the impossibility of perfection or living up to ideals. However, it also seeks to establish affirmative connections in the text that harbour value for positively developing human-animal relations. Thus, this study focuses on (dis)connections surrounding both the conception of the animal, and actual humananimal relations (or lack of), as represented in the text. It argues the need for alternative, imaginative interventions into human-animal relations. A posthumanist8 reading is proposed as resonating with Coetzee’s alternative intervention and the re-imagination of the animal that it creates a space for. My specific posthumanist reading incorporates postcolonial and ecofeminist elements, as well as the notion of receptivity,9 and seeks to identify (dis)connections in the text from this distinctive constellation of perspectives. Through this framework, this study explores the complexities of form and content and how they are intertwined, investigating the role of literature and the imagination in reconceptualising and thus re-imagining the animal.

Chapter one seeks to clarify this study before an analysis of the text takes place, which is argued as necessary with this multi-faceted and controversial work. The theoretical framework, which is outlined in this chapter, requires its own in-depth discussion, for it involves a broad approach which necessitates clarification. The first section of this chapter attempts to situate The Lives of Animals by providing a brief overview of some seminal work on the animal in philosophy and literature. With this background and context in mind, the text is proposed as a considerable and unique contribution to the field of human-animal relations due to its alternative approach. The second section of this chapter provides a discussion of the critical reception of The Lives of Animals. It shows that criticism of the text is immense in scope and diversity, but that there is very little posthumanist criticism in comparison to other readings, perhaps due to posthumanism’s fairly recent emergence in philosophy and literature. Lastly, the theoretical framework is provided in a discussion of this study’s posthumanist reading of Coetzee’s text. The Lives of Animals does not commit to any specific discourse, but challenges authority through bringing dominant human(ist) constructs of human and animal under scrutiny. Thus, a posthumanist reading of the text is proposed as resonating with the text, which asks one to be cognisant of preconceptions, categories and dualist thought, but to be open to the possibilities of using the imagination to rethink the animal. Important links are made between posthumanism and postcolonialism, and it is argued that it is important to acknowledge postcolonial concerns in a holistic reading of Coetzee’s text.

Chapter two focuses on the multi-layered intricacies of representation which make The Lives of Animals such a complex work, exploring the potential effects of this on reception and response. It argues that the text’s content cannot be explored without first addressing its original context and the significance of the mode(s) in which it is/was (re)presented. The elements of representation studied include the original context of the work, mode(s) of communication, genre(s), the relation of the text to the author, and the effect of these elements on reception and response. The first section of this chapter explores Coetzee’s experimental representation and unsettling of categorical boundaries which, as is shown, is inseparable from the text’s commentary on human-animal relations and its effectiveness. Section two discusses Coetzee’s relation to The Lives of Animals, which is particularly complex due to the text’s unsettling of genre boundaries, and the fact that there is controversy surrounding whether the text consists of Coetzee’s personal views or is purely a fictional representation. Lastly, the multi-layered responses within and to The Lives of Animals are discussed. It is proposed that Coetzee preempts certain elements of response in his own representation of response to Elizabeth in the narrative. This play with response by Coetzee is linked to the notion of receptivity in this section, which includes reader-response encounters.

Chapter three discusses the disconnections in The Lives of Animals. It highlights the contradictory polarisations represented within text, and how they serve as a means of challenging and subverting dominant and traditional dualist conceptions by representing unconventional and thus thought-provoking alternatives. Elizabeth approaches the animal from the polar end of the ideological divide, centralising nonhuman animals, feeling and imagination as opposed to humans, reason and rationality. Thus, Elizabeth’s limitations as a protagonist are also discussed, revealing her partial reinstatement of these disconnections. It is argued that this deliberate staging of dualistic contradictions exposes a tendency for multi-faceted matters to be approached dualistically, but also reveals significant ways in which such inconsistencies might be addressed. The first section of this chapter focuses on the ways in which The Lives of Animals critiques the dualist human-animal ideological divide which it represents as underlying and maintaining the mass and cruel commodification of nonhuman animals in contemporary societies. The second section explores the text’s representation of the relation between reason and feeling, and how this is relevant to human-animal relations. Lastly, the text’s representation of an ideological disconnection between rationality and imagination is investigated as pointing towards a less rigid approach to their roles and relations, specifically with regards to the animal.

Although The Lives of Animals is built on significant uncertainties and disconnections, the space for re-imagination that it creates involves establishing affirmative connections. This study argues that the uncertainty surrounding the form and content of the text propels readers to form their own thoughts and opinions, and perhaps to reflect on human-animal relations in new and unforeseen ways. Thus, the last chapter explores and establishes connections in the text, specifically between human and animal, rationality and feeling, and reality and imagination, through re-imagining rigid and dualist representations. Making these connections, as will be shown, depends on a reader’s personal reception. The first section of chapter four focuses on the relation between human and animal represented in the text, establishing underlying connections between Elizabeth and the animal. The next section discusses interconnection in the text, focusing on the interconnection between rationality and feeling, and how this relates to interconnection between human and nonhuman animals. Lastly, the third section of this chapter explores the potential for imaginative realities in the text. This includes deconstructing the ideological disconnections between reality and imagination, and human and nonhuman animal, and proposing imaginative literature as a valuable and realistic means of positively developing human-animal relations.

Ultimately, this study seeks to bring alternative, imaginative ways of approaching human-animal relations to light through a receptive, posthumanist reading of a text which demands a re-imagination of the animal. In light of this, the next chapter will outline my approach in aiming for such a reading, and how it contributes to re-imagining the animal in Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals.

Chapter One: Studying The Lives of Animals - Situation, Reception and Theory

1.1. Introduction

The Lives of Animals has garnered a vast array of critical academic perspectives, some of which are addressed in this chapter. Chapter one of this study seeks to situate The Lives of Animals as a literary work in the field of human-animal relations before a close textual analysis ensues. This is achieved by contextualising it and discussing other work in human-animal relations that can be linked to the text. The critical reception of the text is also discussed to this end, as well as to support my theoretical approach discussed at the end of this chapter. Both The Lives of Animals and posthumanism are complex, controversial subjects surrounded by broad perspectives. In light of this, chapter one serves as a way of clarifying this study and its approach, providing a background and the way forward in studying The Lives of Animals.

Section 1.2 of this chapter seeks to situate The Lives of Animals by providing an overview of some seminal work on the animal in philosophy and literature and contextualising the text. It begins with a general discussion of the subject of human-animal relations, followed by an outline of different forms of nonhuman animal writing, which are linked directly to The Lives of Animals. Using these established approaches as a point of departure, the text is proposed as a considerable and unique literary contribution to the field of human-animal relations due to its multi-facted, alternative approach.

Section 1.3 provides an outline of the critical reception of The Lives of Animals. Most of the text’s criticism is focused on modern and contemporary Western philosophical discourses that Coetzee has referred to, or that seem to underlie his characters’ arguments. There has not been a substantial body of posthumanist criticism of The Lives of Animals in comparison to other readings, perhaps due to its relatively recent emergence in human-animal relations in philosophy and literature in the last few decades.

Although The Lives of Animals deliberately avoids labels or committing itself to a specific theoretical discourse, it challenges dominant conceptions of the nonhuman animal through bringing the construct of the ‘human’ under scrutiny. In section 1.4, a posthumanist reading is proposed as a lens which encourages a rethinking of preconceptions and a receptive, inclusive analysis of the text and its arguments about human-animal relations. This study’s reading of the text involves elements of postcolonial and ecofeminist thought, which are shown to be inseparable from its posthumanist approach to re-imagining the animal in The Lives of Animals.

1.2. Situating The Lives of Animals

Concern about the animal, and specifically about human attitudes towards and (mis)treatment of nonhuman animals, is a primary focus of most of Coetzee’s more recent work,10 though it is apparent in his earlier work as well. This section provides a brief overview of some seminal work on the animal in philosophy and literature that is linked directly to the arguments in the text in attempt to situate The Lives of Animals. It begins with a general discussion of the subject of human-animal relations, followed by an outline of different forms of nonhuman animal writing made reference to in the text. Lastly, The Lives of Animals is proposed as a considerable and unique contribution to the field of human-animal relations.

Nonhuman animals have always been and will always be a central aspect of the human world. However, the nature of human-animal relations, and the ways in which nonhuman animals have been regarded, have depended on how humans perceive ourselves and our place in the world throughout history. Nonhuman animals and their moral status have taken a backseat in dominant modern culture, philosophy and literature in terms of being taken seriously, or as seriously, as humans. This can largely be attributed to various forms and degrees of anthropocentrism. Anthropocentrism is a broad term that, simply speaking, is a worldview based on the idea of the human as centre, and every other form of life as marginal. It is “the view that human beings are primary and central in the order of things” (Steiner, 2010: 1). It is a term that has been problematised, as it can be argued that a human cannot escape anthropocentrism, since being human in itself inevitably means having an anthropocentric perception. However, this study is concerned less with human perception of surroundings and more with human perception of what it means to be human, and how this subsequently affects perception, specifically of nonhuman animals. An anthropocentric worldview that centralises the human as above and separate from the rest of the (reduced) nonhuman world is an affliction of thought that affects all societies on some level. It is a basic belief embedded in many Western religions and philosophies11 based on hierarchical, dualistic thinking. Such systems have been used to rationalise the instrumentalisation12 of nonhuman entities, including nonhuman animals. This disconnects the human from nonhuman animals ideologically, spiritually, and literally. In their study, Literature, Animals, Environment, Huggan and Tiffin define anthropocentrism as “absolute prioritisation of one’s own species’ interests over those of the silenced majority” (2010: 4) and explore literary works that investigate this phenomenon. This study uses the term anthropocentrism in the sense described above.

The increasing attention given to nonhuman animals and their moral status in recent decades can largely be attributed to the recognition of the ecological and moral crisis facing humanity. This has brought about a rapid shift in what Shapiro and DeMello call the “general anthropocentrism within academia” (2010: 308), and the rise of ecocritical13 movements across disciplinary boundaries. The problematic nature of dualist logic, based on conceptions such as human versus animal, and culture versus nature, is evident in the current global ecological crises. This crisis involves not only environmental factors such as climate change and nonhuman animal endangerment and extinction, but also nonhuman animal commodification and cruelty. Significantly, these elements are intimately intertwined, and many of the practices of mass nonhuman animal commodification, such as factory farming, have been criticized by public health professionals14 and nonhuman animal welfare advocates.15 Coetzee’s text compares the “drug-testing laboratories, [...] factory farms, [and] abattoirs” (1999: 21) that billions of nonhuman animals are imprisoned, mistreated and killed in each day to the Holocaust, a highly controversial analogy that is discussed later on in this study. Animal cruelty is a global phenomenon, apparent in various forms and degrees. It is this moral crisis that is brought under scrutiny in The Lives of Animals, which Elizabeth links to the sympathetic imagination, or the lack there of. Through Elizabeth, the text illuminates the effects of human practices on the individual lives of nonhuman animals, rather than the broader, more “platonic” (1999: 53) ecological factors. It is the former kind of nonhuman animal writing that is discussed in this section.

The moral implications of the numerous forms of mistreatment of nonhuman animals in contemporary societies, linked to their inferior status as a result of anthropocentric culture, have been investigated by philosophers across varying discourses, especially in the last few decades. Leading animal rights philosophers Peter Singer and Tom Regan have written influential works on the subject from utilitarian16 and deontological17 approaches respectively, which will be discussed briefly further on. Singer is not mentioned in the main text of The Lives of Animals. However, he is the co-editor, along with Regan, of Animal Rights and Human Obligations (1976), a collection of articles that Coetzee refers to often in the footnotes of The Lives of Animals. Moreover, Singer is one of the scholarly respondents that contributes to the Reflections section of The Lives of Animals, a section discussed alongside other elements of the text’s form, such as the footnotes, in chapter two. Singer’s views on the animal correlate with many of the arguments made in Coetzee’s text based on the inadequacy of dominant Western ideology and the tradition of Western philosophers for their speciesism.18 Although Coetzee does not use the term speciesism specifically, the text critiques anthropocentric moral exclusion based on a criterion of rationality that marginalise nonhuman animals.

Despite these similarities, Coetzee’s Elizabeth does not make use of Singer’s moral and philosophical authority in her lectures on the animal. Perhaps this is because, apart from her rejection of philosophy in developing human-animal relations, Singer’s utilitarianism is itself based on a system of rationalism that is instrumentalist. From a utilitarian point of view, the suffering of a nonhuman animal can be rationalised according to how many people benefit from it. In his study of Coetzee in relation to established animal rights philosophers, Northover notes that from a utilitarian position, “the suffering of the animal could be outweighed by the greater happiness the death of the animal will bring to the numerous people who eat it, [...] since it is the sum total of pleasure and pain of all those concerned that is important rather than [the] individual” (2009: 13). Therefore, the suffering of a nonhuman animal could be outweighed by the human benefit of consumption and enjoyment. On the other hand, Regan (2004: 208) bases his approach on the deontological, or Kantian, value of receptacles, which focuses on and values the lives of the individual nonhuman animals as sentient beings. This approach correlates closely with the views expressed by Elizabeth. However, for Kant, ultimate value in the universe only exists in the good will of rational, autonomous ‘persons’, and only humans are capable of ‘personhood’, and thus deserving of moral consideration (Kant, 1964: 61). Perhaps this speciesist origin is why Regan is only mentioned once briefly in the main text (1999: 22). Like Singer, the theories Regan uses in his argument for animal rights can and have been used to promote and legitimate the exploitation and suffering of nonhuman animals in the name of humans. Though these theories have been adapted by Regan and Singer and are well intentioned, what Coetzee’s text proposes is the need for a complete rethinking of the fundamental ideology that underlies dominant and anthropocentric understandings of the animal, rather than a re-instatement of problematic ones.

In reaction to dominant Western philosophical traditions and established ethical principles (evidently dominated by Western males), ecofeminism emerged as an alternative discourse which challenges such ideology. According to Gaard, “ecofeminism's basic premise is that the ideology which authorizes oppressions such as those based on race, class, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, and species is the same ideology which sanctions the oppression of nature” (1993: 1). Renowned ecofeminist Mary Midgley is referred to in the main text of The Lives of Animals (1999, 22), and her essay Persons and Non-persons (1985) is cited in the footnotes of the text (1999: 61). Although her work is not discussed in any detail in the text, there are many correlations between her and Elizabeth’s views surrounding the animal. In fact, of all the philosophers Coetzee makes reference to in the text, Midgely’s views most closely resonate with Elizabeth’s. Midgley is critical of the reductionistic view of rational human versus irrational animal and is apprehensive about appealing to fundamental moral principles in promoting animal rights (Midgley, 2002). She rejects the dualist notion of human versus animal and sentiment versus reason, which stems from a certain humanist,19 anthropocentric understanding of rationality. Similarly, Coetzee’s text exposes and resists dualist, humanist thinking. As Northover notes: “one thing [Midgley] [and] [Elizabeth] would presumably agree [on] is the limitations of a certain narrow form of humanism, insofar as it is merely anthropocentric and pits reason against our ‘animal passions’ to sympathise with other animals” (2009: 19). Like Midgely, Elizabeth rejects anthropocentric reason and challenges the rationalist denial of sentiment through proposing the development of the sympathetic imagination.

In light of this, ecofeminist approaches have found theories on animal rights such as Regan and Singer’s problematic, arguing that they reproduce a certain rationalistic discourse and deny the significance of sentiment.20 This is where Elizabeth’s gender becomes significant.

She specifically denounces anthropocentric reason rooted in the thought of male Western philosophers such as Aristotle, Descartes, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Kant. This is because, as Steiner notes, these traditional Western philosophers are all linked “by an underlying logic: that all and only human beings are worthy of moral consideration, because all and only human beings are rational” (2010: 2). Although Coetzee does not overtly mention feminism, Elizabeth’s challenge to philosophy relates to its foundational core, which rests on a history of Western patriarchy and an analytic21 tradition of rationalism and anthropocentrism.

There are significant correlations between ecofeminist approaches and recent continental philosophy22 branches of nonhuman animal studies (for example Wolfe, 2003; Calarco and Atterton, 2004; Derrida, 2008), and specifically posthumanist approaches. Posthumanism is a broad term which will be discussed and related to The Lives of Animals in section 1.4 of this chapter, but can be simplified as an approach that “critiques the universalist posture of the idea of ‘Man’ as the alleged ‘measure of all things’” (Braidotti, 2017: 9). It destabilizes the idea that the human is the ultimate source of value in the world. Nonhuman animal writing from this approach is critical of animal rights theories such as Regan’s and Singer’s.

Philosophical nonhuman animal writing, although integral in Coetzee’s text, is referenced in a marginal way in comparison to literary nonhuman animal writing. Most philosophers are mentioned very briefly and usually in a footnote, and if they are actually being discussed in the main text they are being critiqued. Literary authors, on the other hand, are discussed in more detail. The author Elizabeth utilises most prominently in her lectures is Franz Kafka. Although she refers to other literary nonhuman animal writers throughout her lectures, such as poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Ted Hughes, they are not dealt with as extensively as Kafka. Elizabeth promotes the reading of nonhuman animal literature in which nonhuman animals are not simply metaphors or symbols for humans and human behaviour, but rather the subjects of the writing, representing their nonhuman animal selves. Her interpretation of Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” (1917) is that of the latter kind of nonhuman animal literature. As will be discussed in further chapters, she reads the short story about “an educated ape, Red Peter, who stands before the members of a learned society telling the story of his life- of his ascent from beast to something approaching man” (1999: 18) as a story about the ape itself, not “as an allegory of Kafka the Jew performing for Gentiles” (1999: 18).

Although not obvious in all of his individual works, Kafka is one of few writers in whose overall literary works nonhuman animals play such a central role. Nonhuman and crosshuman creatures are present in all of his longer stories and in about half of his shorter ones, as well as in his letters and diary entries (Yarri, 2010: 269). His understanding of nonhuman animals and what it means to be human is complex, thought-provoking and, as will be explored in chapter three of this study, can be read as posthumanist in various ways. Though most of Kafka’s nonhuman animal figures can be read as symbolic of humans and human concerns, they also invite readings which challenge both this convention and that of anthropocentric human identity.

In this way, as in many others, Kafka was arguably ‘ahead of his time’. Goodboy (2016:3) argues that Kafka “anticipated central contentions of the new thinking about animals which has emerged over the past generation, [challenged] accepted notions of human identity by foregrounding our animality, and [drew] attention to the agency of animals”. This approach aligns with various contemporary nonhuman animal writers who can be read as or who define themselves as posthumanist thinkers, and who recognise Kafka’s significance as a predecessor of such thinking.23 Coetzee himself “refers to Kafka as a pioneer in the literary depiction of and philosophical reflection on the human-animal continuum” (Goodboy, 2016: 7). This points to why the literary writer and the nonhuman animal that Elizabeth identifies with most closely in the text are Kafka and his fictional ape, Red Peter. Elizabeth’s contention that “of all men Kafka is the most insecure in his humanity” (1999: 30-31) expresses her own disconcertedness about humans whose humanity she questions due to their direct or indirect mistreatment of others, specifically nonhuman animals, and their apparent indifference to it.

In terms of nonhuman animal literature, poetry is a focal point of Elizabeth’s discussion. She focuses on two poems in her lectures: Ted Hughes’ ‘The Jaguar’ and Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘The Panther’. Both poets wrote extensively on nonhuman animals, which they saw as means of expression beyond the limitations of ‘humanness’. Hughes uses nonhuman animal imagery to challenge the dualist human-animal divide, expose the conformist nature of human society, and reveal the beauty in the purity of the nonhuman animal. His “remedy for healing the split between man and nature, is through romantic primitivism which with its biocentric principles allows man to develop correspondence with nature” (Ghosh, 2018: 276). He wrote against anthropocentrism in being ‘biocentric’, considering all forms of human and nonhuman life as having intrinsic value. Rilke on the other hand was a Modernist poet. He expresses in his poetry the idea of the superiority of nonhuman animals to humans,24 and “his sense that the promise of language is inherently untenable, which prompts him to look to animals for a form of expression that might still be ‘true to life’” (Driscoll, 2014: 33). The idea of human limitation in both these poets’ work resonates with Elizabeth’s own recognition of the limitations and shortcomings of ‘humanity’, specifically in relation to the nonhuman animal.

However, what confuses Elizabeth’s seemingly clear polemical argument between literature and philosophy is her critique of the poems that she discusses. She highlights the anthropocentrism in a certain kind of poetry that uses nonhuman animals as symbols for human concerns and traits: “In that kind of poetry, [...] animals stand for human qualities: the lion for courage, the owl for wisdom, and so forth. Even in Rilke’s poem the panther is there as a standin for something else” (1999: 50). Moreover, she reveals how the poet can create a dualist relationship between active human writer and passive nonhuman animal, accusing Rilke of this in his poem about a caged panther in the zoo. She says that in this way, “Hughes is writing against Rilke. He uses the same staging in the zoo, but it is the crowd for a change that stands mesmerized” (1999: 50) with the jaguar. In this way, Hughes subverts the active human gazing upon the passive nonhuman animal, writing from a more animalistic perspective. Elizabeth states that “it is the kind of poetry ... that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him” (1999: 51). In other words, Hughes’ poetic engagement with the nonhuman animal is not abstractly projective of human perception onto the nonhuman animal. In this sense, his poetry can be read as posthumanist,25 receptive to the nonhuman animal being while remaining aware of the limits of anthropocentric perception. However, Elizabeth sees Hughes as a primitivist: an essentially ecological, platonic approach to the individual lives of nonhuman animals as part of an ecosystem. For her, the “irony is a terrible one... [as] [a]nimals are not believers in ecology” (1999: 54). This critique of Hughes puts him in the same position as Rilke: guilty of treating nonhuman animals as emblematic of something else.

As can be deduced from the above discussion of nonhuman animal writing made reference to in the text, Coetzee attempts to unearth and critique sources of authority, both philosophical and literary. He makes no attempt to use the moral and intellectual authority of ecofeminist or continental philosophers, for example, whose arguments could have strengthened Elizabeth’s.26 When Coetzee does appeal to the authority of nonhuman animal writers, he reads them in unconventional and original ways, thereby questioning any kind of ideological authority. This openness to interpretation and refusal to commit to any certainty or perspective will be proposed as a deliberate and potentially effective means of provoking the reader to question established discourses and preconceptions and form their own thoughts and opinions. This, in effect, creates the potential for new and unpredictable connections to be established in relation to the animal. The Lives of Animals contributes to and resonates with the constantly changing nature of Western thinking about the animal, which forces us “to recognize the limits of old conceptions of ourselves and animals and to seek new conceptions that adequately reflect our experience of humanity and animality” (Steiner, 2010: 1). It is a form of literature creating a space in which imaginative philosophical connections can be made through an exposition of (dis)connections and the limitations of humanity and our constructs. This, in conjunction with its unusual form, renders it a unique contribution to the field of human-animal relations.

In terms of form, Coetzee brings set categories of genre and representation into question, mirroring the way that he questions categories surrounding the animal in the text. It is argued in the next chapter that it is the experimental interaction between content and form that makes Coetzee’s work on the animal so complex, and what McKay calls the “most profound attempt in contemporary writing to answer the challenge of animal ethics” (2010: 67). The imaginative, experimental form of Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals is fundamental in demanding that its readers re-imagine what it might mean to be a human or nonhuman animal before tackling the subject of nonhuman animal ethics.

This section has situated The Lives of Animals and argued that it is a unique contribution to the subject of human-animal relations. Coetzee destabilises dominant and anthropocentric discourses surrounding nonhuman animals and ethics through crossing and unsettling boundaries of representation in the content and form of his text. He reveals the ideological disconnections surrounding the animal, its consequences, and the significant and largely overlooked role imaginative literature can and ought to play in positively developing humananimal relations through representation.

1.3. Critical Reception

There is a vast body of critical work on The Lives of Animals, as there is on Coetzee’s body of work as a whole. Although criticism of the text is broad in scope and diversity, it has predominantly been preoccupied with modern and contemporary Western philosophical discourses that Coetzee has made reference to, or that seem to underlie his characters’ arguments. The philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida (see Derek Attridge, 2004b); George Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer (see Laurence Wright, 2008); Emmanuel Levinas (see Mike Marais, 2001); Jacques Lacan (see Michela Canepari-Labib, 2005); Maurice Blanchot (see Sam Durrant, 2006) and Foucault (see Michael Kochin, 2007) have been applied or linked to the text in diverse and novel ways.

Generally speaking, there seems to be a split in the criticism of The Lives of Animals with regards to what the text represents. Many critics treat the text as about actual nonhuman animals in terms of animal rights,21 whereas others treat it purely as a representation of human concerns through nonhuman animal imagery.27 28 In response to the former kind of reading, Kompridis argues that “one would think that a book whose title points to a concern with the lives of animals might check the temptation to treat it strictly as a fictionalized discourse on the rights of nonhuman animals” (2014: 205 my emphasis). This study approaches the text as a representation of the complexities surrounding the inter-related lives, rather than the rights, of human and nonhuman animals. As Kompridis notes, the intertwined complexity of humananimal relations and experience represented in the text is reduced to some extent by preconceived animal rights discourses which critics use to define and evaluate the text. On the other hand, though, the possible contributions to developing alternative conceptions of the nonhuman animal and potentially better human-animal relations through this literary representation should not be disregarded in a reading which focalises the human and human concerns.

Such perspectives evince how a dualistic conception of the animal affects the reading of Coetzee’s text, which has been categorised by various critics as either about animal rights, or about humans. Laura Wright, however, offers a more balanced and holistic reading, arguing that “Coetzee’s text is on the one hand about our treatment of animals, both human and nonhuman, but it is also a rhetorical exercise of the sympathetic imagination and the role that imagining plays in breaking down binary distinctions” (2006: 212). She acknowledges the text as being about human-animal relations, while pointing out the significance of the representational and rhetorical nature of the literary text. This study aligns itself with such a reading, highlighting how the human and literary elements are inseparable from the nonhuman animal element.

Although the concept of and encounters with the other in The Lives of Animals has been extensively covered, such as in Attridge’s J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading (2004b) and The Singularity of Literature (2004c), the concept of the sympathetic imagination does not seem to have received as much attention. When it has, it has been in relation to established animal rights and ethics, such as in Wendy Woodward’s The Animal Gaze - Animal Subjectivities in Southern African Narratives (2008) and Anton Leist and Peter Singer’s J.M. Coetzee and Ethics (2010). These works focus on Elizabeth’s philosophical (or lack thereof) stance, rather than on her core approach: the limitlessness of the “sympathetic imagination” (1999: 35).

Durrant (2006) and Marais (2001) have investigated the sympathetic imagination in their criticism of Coetzee’s text, but remain sceptical of Elizabeth’s ideas even while acknowledging the potential of her approach. In their use of philosophy from Levinas and Derrida, they assert that Coetzee repeatedly offers up the ‘sympathetic imagination’ as a way of approaching nonhuman animals, but that in doing so he exposes how limited it actually is. Brenda Deen Schildgen offers an alternative approach, and praises Elizabeth’s “ethical imperative” (2003: 324) to utilise the sympathetic imagination in engaging with nonhuman animals. Schildgen expresses her faith in the potential for literature to promote this possibility, arguing that “[p]oetic language, particularly metaphor, can make us ‘feel’, the precise capability that modern philosophers have suggested aligns humans with animals” and that “metaphor offers us this insight - to perceive, think, feel, even perhaps be or become like another” (2003: 331). She believes that poetics has the potential to bridge the gaps left by rationalist philosophical discourses, some of which have proven to be inadequate and harmful to human-animal relations. While this study aligns itself with perspectives such as Schildgen’s to some extent, criticism such as Durrant ’s and Marais’ is important in acknowledging the contradictions, ironies and intellectual ambiguities in the text.

Overall, there has not been a substantial body of posthumanist criticism of The Lives of Animals in comparison to other readings. The few studies and articles found to have utilised posthumanist criticism or related posthumanism to the text in some way have been used to strengthen my arguments in certain sections of this study.

1.4. A Posthumanist Reading

The Lives of Animals challenges anthropocentric conceptions of the nonhuman animal through questioning what it means to be human. In this section, posthumanism is offered as a recent mode of thought that can be used in a critical reading of the text. Firstly, a concise outline of posthumanism in relation to the animal and human-animal relations is provided, making reference to theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Cary Wolfe, Matthew Calarco and Val Plumwood. This is followed by a discussion of the links between posthumanism and postcolonialism, and how they are inseparable in this study’s reading of the text.29 Lastly, a ‘posthumanist reading’ is defined in terms of what it involves, and how it resonates with reimagining the animal in Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals.

As has been discussed, Elizabeth rejects philosophy in favour of literature when it comes to nonhuman animal writing and the sympathetic imagination. Ironically, Elizabeth dualistically dismisses philosophy in her passionate denunciation of dualist conceptions of human versus animal. She believes that this philosophical (mis)representation of the animal has bled into contemporary society and that it underlies and maintains mass systematic nonhuman animal commodification and cruelty. In this way, Coetzee explores dualistic thought on multiple levels, revealing its limitations while acknowledging the difficulties and ironies involved in trying to combat it. Posthumanism is similarly concerned with dualistic thought. It interrupts and negotiates with dualities, questioning fundamental understandings in an attempt to model other structures of thought,30 rather than invoking nondualist thought, which risks falling into the very dualistic trap it rejects.31 This study reads Elizabeth’s own falling into this trap as a deliberate and self-conscious irony that is fundamental to Coetzee’s text, while recognising her suffering and passionate convictions as a desperate call for new modes of thought.

Posthumanism, like The Live of Animals, is difficult to define. It is, simply speaking, a perspective that challenges an exclusionary humanism that reduces agency and value to the human and represses the human’s animal origins. Posthumanism has emerged as problems within and arguably caused by a certain humanist discourse, which rests on hierarchical dichotomies such as human/animal, culture/nature, have become harder to ignore.32 In light of this, posthumanist theorists Herbrechter and Callas argue that “humanism, which across various and sometimes mutually contradictory instantiations has very arguably remained the dominant Western ideology of the past 500 years, is in crisis” (2010: 4). Posthumanist thinking involves an ‘un-learning’ of learnt, exclusionary conceptions of what it means to be a human or nonhuman animal, and acknowledges that, as Elizabeth states, “we are all animals” (1999: 33). As Twine notes, the “reconceptualization and decentring of the human is inseparable from attempts to resolve both anthropocentric hubris and its exclusionary histories” (Twine, 2010: 12). From such a perspective, a re-imagination of the other must begin with a re-imagination of the human(ist) self.

However, posthumanism is not necessarily opposed to all principles of humanism. Rather, it destabilises human(ism’s) self-elevation and its separation from animal and, as is exemplified in chapter four of this study, draws on thought from various past and alternative approaches to human-animal relations. As Twine asserts, posthumanism “taps into a historical lineage of ideas that have served to decentre the human” and “emphasize[s] the ways in which we have never really been this ‘human’ that sees itself as separate from other species” (2010: 12).33 From this perspective, humans have never really been ‘human’, and nonhuman animals have never really been ‘animal’. In posthumanist discourse, both ‘human’ and ‘animal’ are terms to deconstruct and reconstruct. The deconstruction of such fundamental modes of understanding calls for re-imagination that goes beyond established discourses.

Such an approach also points to the problem of traditional ethics discourses that rest on anthropocentric criteria as a means to define and value nonhuman animals (Calarco, 2008: 89; Wolfe, 2003: 10). For example, it is argued that seminal animal rights theorists, such as the earlier discussed Peter Singer and Tom Regan, put too much emphasis on similarity defined in human terms. From this perspective, similarity to humans serves as a base from which to argue for the ethical treatment of nonhuman animals.34 Such an approach suggests that nonhuman animals deserve to be treated ethically because they display certain ‘human’ characteristics. On the other hand, there are arguments for animal rights based primarily on nonhuman animals’ lack of human characteristics and capability, arguing for their protection from an approach that is similar to the argument for that of disabled people. This approach can and has been said to imply that nonhuman animals are somehow lacking or burdenous, oppressing them because of their difference to what is regarded as the ideal form of ‘human’.35

In The Lives of Animals, Elizabeth is highly critical of such approaches. She mocks the idea of basing the importance of a “being’s” suffering on a discourse determining how human or nonhuman that being is, calling it “profoundly anthropocentric” (1999: 62). She, like Twine, believes that “a conception of the ethical requires a deeper critique of anthropocentrism that also operationalizes a broader relational ontology that further undermines a resilient humananimal dualism” (Twine, 2010: 27). Elizabeth asserts that a nonhuman animal should be valued in its own right, instead of treating its similarity or difference to humans as a constraint. She highlights, rather than denies, the alterity of different species. In this way, her views correlate with Derrida’s posthumanist speculations in The Animal That I Therefore Am (2008),36 in which he deconstructs the human(ist) subject while emphasizing the undeniable alterity of the nonhuman animal to the human. However, while Elizabeth acknowledges it, she does not focus on alterity like Derrida, and emphasizes a shared, interconnected existence, calling for “an acceptance that we are all of one kind, one nature” (1999: 61). This approach resonates with posthumanist ecofeminism,37 which is utilised in chapters three and four of this study in relation to Elizabeth’s arguments about human-animal interconnection.

As has been shown, seminal animal rights theories and philosophers have come under scrutiny recently, particularly in the last two decades. The Lives of Animals was a significant contribution to this criticism. Coetzee’s text resonates with Wolfe’s assertions that “just because we study nonhuman animals does not mean that we are not continuing to be humanist - and therefore, by definition, anthropocentric”, for though one’s “external disciplinarity is posthumanist in taking seriously the existence and ethical stakes of nonhuman beings (in that sense, it questions anthropocentrism), your internal disciplinarity may remain humanist to the core” (2009: 272, 568). In her lectures, Elizabeth challenges human supremacism based on anthropocentrism. She rejects the idea that the rational human subject, “a central tenet of humanism before and after the Enlightenment” (Faivre, 2012: 3), holds a superiority based upon reason and the human’s ability to reason. She reveals the anthropocentric limitations of such human constructs, specifically when it comes to dealing with and studying nonhuman animals, and how this links to the (lack of) sympathetic imagination for nonhuman animals.

The above-mentioned constructs revolve around a fundamental othering of that which is different to the central construct. In this way, it is important in the reading of The Lives of Animals to acknowledge postcolonial concerns.38 This is not only in terms of contextual elements, such as Coetzee being South African or the novel being set in Australia,39 but more so the recognition that postcolonial and nonhuman animal studies are concerned with the same fundamental questions surrounding self and other.40 Both anthropocentric and colonial constructions of ‘human’ or ‘white’ rely on the othering of ‘nonhuman’ animals or ‘non-white’ humans respectively. Coetzee’s other 1999 novel, Disgrace, as compared to his other works, most obviously combines (post)colonial and (post)humanist concerns.41 The Lives of Animals might not appear to be a postcolonial narrative, as it focuses primarily on philosophy, literature and the animal. However, Elizabeth’s lectures address (albeit discreetly) colonisation, which she says “has entailed slaughtering and enslaving a race of divine or else divinely created beings” (1999: 58). She scrutinizes it and its after effects on the lives of humans and nonhuman animals, who she regards as equally ‘divine’. Moreover, what various critics label the ‘hybrid’42 form of the text might be read as postcolonial in its challenge to Western categories of genre and mode.43 For instance, in their postcolonial reading of the text, DeLoughrey and Handley argue that its “hybrid form functions as a critique of anthropocentrism that is best understood as postcolonial” (2011: 206). In crossing boundaries of representation, The Lives of Animals defies rigid western distinctions between fiction and philosophy, and oral and literary modes.

A postcolonial interpretation also serves as a way of countering what may appear to be a purely Western set of concerns, highlighting the underlying links between colonial and humanist thought. Significantly, Coetzee, a white male, signifies the ultimate oppressor of the other in postcolonial theory, as well as the dominant figure in Western animal rights philosophy. His criticism of both forms of dominance in the text involves the attempt to break from one’s own dominant culture and position, and, “as Coetzee argues, requires a means of expression that is neither African nor European” (Borrel, 2009: 61). Much like the hybrid form of his text, Coetzee unsettles boundaries of expression in his position of being a white, male, South African, postcolonial author with a female protagonist that gives lectures on nonhuman animals. This suggests that white postcolonial writing can contribute to human-animal relations, and vice versa, for as Borrel argues in her postcolonial study of The Lives of Animals, it is “out of these histories of European species and cultural relations that white postcolonial cultures emerge, necessarily inheriting from them but also challenging their principles” by “decenter[ing] the anthropos” and revealing that “anthropocentrism, humanism and imperialism are more than parallels or similes for one another; their histories are interwoven narratives of self and other” (2009: 16). In this sense, posthumanism and postcolonialism are not only correlational, but as is discussed further in chapter three of this study, also inseparable in many ways.

Postcolonial ecocritical theory44 (such as Huggan and Tiffin, 2010; DeLoughrey and Handley, 2011) is used in analysing elements of Coetzee’s text that suggest that a reimagination of the animal might “play its part in the undoing of the epistemological hierarchies and boundaries - nowhere more apparent than under historical and/or contemporary conditions of colonialism - that have set humans against other animals” (Huggan & Tiffin, 2010: 23). This is discussed in chapter three alongside Elizabeth’s controversial human-animal analogies.45 Chapter three makes use of ecofeminist Val Plumwood’s critical framework, which “articulates an implicit posthumanism and respect for the animacy of all earth others” (Gaard, 2017: xvi). It utilises her notion of “hegemonic centrism”, the self-privileging view that she sees as underlying colonialism, racism, sexism, and speciesism, which are all interlinked, reconfirming and supportive of each other (Plumwood, 2001: 4). In light of this, it is argued that however controversial Elizabeth’s analogies are, the systems that are brought under scrutiny have a common ideological base: humanist reason.46 The suggestion by Philip Armstrong in The Postcolonial Animal (2002) that the fields of postcolonial and nonhuman animal studies might form an alliance based on the common antagonist of humanism, recognises the complementarity of these approaches. This study aligns itself with the recognition that both discourses are reactions to an exclusionary form of reason. However, like Armstrong’s article, my approach is not an attempt to equate or even compare the two fields, which have different contexts and complexities. Rather it is a recognition of the ideological ‘centrisms’ that lie at the foundation of the marginalisation of the other, human and nonhuman. It is a proposal of posthumanism as an approach that seeks to destabilize such ideology from the root rather than treating its symptomatic manifestations with the same pattern of thought.

In view of these correlations, this study agrees with Singh’s postcolonial argument about a posthumanist reading of The Lives of Animals, which she says goes further in unsettling what have now become the “conventions of postcolonial thought by insisting upon a rethinking of the animal” (2013: 471). This requires a re-evaluation of the defensive stance against an inclusive analysis of human and nonhuman animal marginalisation and suffering.47 Both postcolonial and nonhuman animal studies have largely remained limited by their “political parameters” in this sense, “mired by an unimaginative mode of comparison, forgetting the productive potential of thinking about the animality of all humans and thereby abandoning the urgent need to redress the human/animal distinction that makes possible the subjugation of all beings” (Singh, 2013: 477). Such ‘unimaginative’ thinking reinstates and preserves a problematic system of thought based on dualist distinctions and prevents a holistic approach to addressing oppression as a global, multispecies phenomenon. In this way, Coetzee’s text reveals and brings into question the underlying logic of exclusionary oppression and how this logic seeps through into the very discourses that have emerged to counteract it. In light of this, a posthumanist reading which involves aspects of postcolonialism will be offered in different forms and to different degrees throughout this study, revealing how these intertwined approaches might be complementary, and how they can be linked to the sympathetic imagination.

The phrase ‘posthumanist reading’ in this study refers to a means of reading a text that can be analysed from a posthumanist perspective, rather than a term used to categorise specific texts under a ‘posthumanist’ label. This resonates closely with Huggan and Tiffin’s argument about ‘postcolonial ecocriticism’: “[it] needs to be understood as a particular way of reading, rather than a specific corpus of literary and other cultural texts” (2010: 13). Moreover, the posthumanist lens of this study, including its postcolonial elements, seeks to establish affirmative connections in the text through first analysing Coetzee’s imaginative expo sitions of real disconnections surrounding the animal in terms of discourse and morality. This way of reading, like Huggan and Tiffin argue, “is morally attuned to the continuing abuses of authority that operate in humanity’s name” and “performs an advocacy function both in relation to the real world(s) it inhabits and to the imaginary spaces it opens up for contemplation of how the real world might be transformed” (2010: 13). As is argued in this study, Coetzee’s literary text opens up an imaginary space in which real world problems surrounding the animal can be rethought in an imaginative way. It pushes its readers (whether successful or unsuccessful) to think beyond their preconceived constraints, creating a possibility for transformation in its readers and their attitudes and behaviour in an extra-textual sense.

As can be deduced from the above paragraph, and in accordance with Coetzee’s text and posthumanist theory, a ‘posthumanist reading’ is difficult to definitively articulate. Of the research done for this study, it has been found that Herbrechter and Callas provide the clearest summary of a posthumanist reading, and one which resonates with this study:

It is an expression of ‘care’ that is critical of the ideology that has been pre-empting the most fundamental questioning - and not the annihilation - of the human, as a species, as a construction, as an ‘invention,’ as a ‘myth.’ In reading the humanism inscribed within texts that at the same time explore humanism’s limits, a critical posthumanist approach aims to open up possibilities for alternatives to the constraints of humanism as a system of values. It is not theoretical sophistry claim[ing] that the care of a posthumanist reading lies in the exposure of the strategies by which human(ist) integrity is conscripted. (2008: 121)

The assertion that a posthumanist reading is not a ‘theoretical sophistry’ constructed to disprove humanist paradigms, or ‘annihilate’ the human, is important. Although posthumanism is simply another human construction or discourse, it is one that brings our entire concept of humanity and our principles into question. It is also an imaginative, speculative approach that promotes care for others (human and nonhuman) based on our unique but shared existence, without romanticising it. In this sense, posthumanism might be considered as the closest one might come to resonating with what comes across as Coetzee’s ‘approachless’ approach to the animal, in which his protagonist criticises human(ist) reason, and outright rejects its proscriptive “principles” (1999: 37). Rather, she proposes: “kindness to animals - and here I use the word kindness in its full sense, as an acceptance that we are all of one kind, one nature” (1999: 61). Elizabeth, in her flawed and rather confusing way, is asking for care based on a recognition of human-animal solidarity, and the limitations of humans and their traditional approaches to the animal.

In light of the issue of limitations though, posthumanism has been a controversial emergence in the world of philosophy. Questions around what a posthumanist reading would do or be have quite rightly come up in response to what appears to be limited if not impossible task. As Herbrechter and Callas (2008: 96) ask: [H]ow [can] one [...] go about critically reading assumptions and values about the human, [...] how is it possible to read as if one were not human, or at least from a position of analytical detachment in relation to the humanity - whether ‘essential’ or ‘constructed’ - that informs and determines the very position from which it is read? What would be the nature of such an ‘unnatural’ reading?

Part of posthumanism’s postmodern48 existence is its paradoxical recognition of its own limitations. However, posthumanism asks us to push ourselves beyond what our ‘constructed’ preconceptions have conditioned us to believe is the limit to our understandings and engagements, and create new ones, while simultaneously recognising our inherent, ‘essential’ human limitations.

Wolfe argues about posthumanism that it is “analogous to Jean-Francis Lyotard’s paradoxical rendering of the postmodern”, but that it “points toward the necessity of new theoretical paradigms (but also thrusts them on us)” which are based upon a “decentering of the human” (2010: xv). Similarly, the paradox of Coetzee’s text involves the apparent postmodern recognition of the impossibility of transcending our own ‘humanness’. This is apparent in Elizabeth’s rejection of metanarratives49 regarding the animal, which resonates with Lyotard’s notion of the ‘postmodern’ as an “incredulity toward metanarratives” (1979: xxv). However, in accordance with this study’s approach, The Lives of Animals correlates more closely with ecofeminist Cynthia Willet’s argument about posthumanism, which she says explores problems and questions that have “traditionally been confined within narrowly circumscribed disciplinary boundaries”, and proposes imaginative, empathetic engagements that “venture beyond modern and postmodern binaries” (2014: ii, 7). This study utilises posthumanist thought in a way which reverberates with Coetzee’s text, which asks one to be cognisant of preconceptions, categories and dualist thought, but to be open to the possibilities of using the imagination to rethink the animal.

In this way, a posthumanist reading of The Lives of Animals requires a renegotiation - indeed, a re-imagination - of otherness, in order to “open your heart” (1999: 37) and tap into, at least partly, a sympathetic imagination not sorely limited by anthropocentrism. This involves reading “against one’s self, against one’s own deep-seated self-understanding as a member or even representative of a certain ‘species’, [...] to sympathise and empathise with a position that troubles and undoes identity while struggling to reassert what is familiar and defining” (Herbrechter and Callas, 2008: 96). This study investigates the human/animal, self/other duality through Coetzee’s exploration of the limits of sympathising with any other animal, human or nonhuman, that Elizabeth calls “the ‘another’” (1999: 35). At the same time, the possibilities of what Elizabeth calls the sympathetic imagination are explored, arguing that its potential is inhibited by ideological disconnections.

Significantly, a posthumanist reading of the text involves a certain approach to both the text itself, and the human and nonhuman animals that the text imagines. The breakdown of dualism is multi-dimensional in Coetzee’s narrative, based on an interconnected and inseparable relation between content and form. Before engaging fully with the actual arguments made within the text, the text’s experimental form and representation require discussion. The next chapter highlights the text’s typically postmodern features and play on rhetoric, while linking it to a posthumanist reading. This unconventional, sometimes contradictory text is built on uncertainty and dislocation in both its content and form. It requires receptivity50 from readers that Elizabeth’s fictional audience do not display, either to Elizabeth, her lectures, or the nonhuman animals of which she speaks. The notion of receptivity, and the different rhetorical elements which have an effect on it, will be explored as a fundamental aspect of the text’s characterisation and message. In this study, receptivity is shown to be integral to an imaginative, posthumanist reading.

The notion of receptivity has both ethical and ontological dimensions. It involves a mode of listening and "normative response" to ethical demands arising outside of the self, "a way by which we might become more attuned to our pre-reflective understanding of the world, to our inherited ontologies" (Kompridis, 2006: 199).51 This ontological approach to ethics involves an acute awareness of the effects that our pre-conceptions or paradigms may have on our reception of new or alternative practices or ideas. It has the potential to generate “noninstrumental” possibilities for social change through self-transformation and “normative responsiveness that is both spontaneous and reflective” (Kompridis, 2014: 218). This includes reception of information that may challenge or destabilize pre-existing knowledge, which can often be met with forms of cognitive dissonance.52

Importantly though, Kompridis states that to “speak of receptivity here is not to speak of passivity or openness: receptivity is not reducible to either of these”, which would “identify it with mindless submission to anyone or anything that comes along” (2014: 218). This reductive conception of receptivity is the very reason that the term itself is treated with scepticism, as it suggests naivety and incredulousness, an inability to make critical judgements, and excessive openness. Kompridis asserts that this is an unrealistic conception “precisely because a mind to which everything mattered equally would be a mind to which nothing mattered. In short, nothing we could recognize as a human mind” (2014: 218). Essentially, the human mind cannot accept everything it receives, which is why psychological mechanisms such as cognitive dissonance form. However, being aware of this element of one’s own mind, and practicing reflectiveness, does not require an ‘equal’ or nonrational approach to all sources of information. In his book From Enlightenment to Receptivity Michael Slote argues that the focus on receptivity understands the value and necessity of rationality, but more particularly enables one to see what is wrong with an overemphasis on rationality both in terms of ethics and epistemology (2013: x). Ultimately, receptivity encourages progressive thinking based on a stance of humility and transformation.

In this way, receptivity can be directly linked to posthumanism and the kind of attitude Wolfe sees as necessary for “living in a world so newly, and differently, inhabited” (2010: 47), which requires awareness of our own limitations as humans in the form of respect and humility. From such a perspective, thinking becomes not active apprehension (prehensile grasping of the world by our concepts, as it were) but an act of reception, a reception in which passivity - because it consists of a capacity to be affected by the world in manifold ways that cannot be contained by the choked bottleneck of thought as philosophy has traditionally conceived it - becomes, paradoxically, a maximally active passivity. (2010: 242)

This fine balance between passive acceptance and active apprehension is fundamental to Coetzee’s text, which critiques what Wolfe calls the ‘chocked bottleneck’ of thought according to traditional philosophy while simultaneously exposing the difficulty involved in making and being open to spontaneous claims or convictions.

Coetzee’s text is a means to unsettle readers who perceive the animal, literature and philosophy in conventional ways, and proposes the power of the imagination in rethinking, and thus re-imagining, the animal. This study seeks to establish affirmative connections within the text through first identifying and exploring dualist disconnections, such as between human and animal, rationality and feeling, and reality and imagination. This invites a posthumanist reimagination of the animal in the text: that which begins with a re-imagination of ourselves and our constructs and conventions.

1.5. Conclusion

In situating The Lives of Animals, this chapter has shown that seminal philosophical contributions to nonhuman animal studies and human-animal relations have been critiqued for maintaining fundamental and problematic humanist, dualist reason. Critical philosophical approaches since then have questioned such discourse, and “have laboured to underscore the way in which academic knowledge production itself is not immune from anthropocentrism” (Twine, 2010: 27). Attempts to avoid falling back into such humanist thinking have generally come from posthumanist, ecofeminist and animal studies philosophers “who have turned to continental philosophy” (2010: 27). A posthumanist reading of the text is suggested as offering an approach based on receptivity and a speculative rather than sceptical attitude towards alternative and imaginative ideas about human-animal relations represented in the text.

In the same way as posthumanist philosopher Cary Wolfe, Coetzee’s text expresses the need for dominant human(ist) constructions, including that of the ‘human’, to be brought into question before there can be a rethinking of the nonhuman animal. A significant element of the text’s value lies in its apparent postmodern refusal to adhere to or add on to generic, conventional regulations. Rather, it creates the space for a re-imagination of preconceptions which might spur unforeseen and self-reflective readings based on faculties other than established or conventional modes of reason, theory and disciplinary boundaries. This chapter has discussed how the text “pushes postcolonial thinking beyond its own disciplinary limits by insisting upon a ceaseless awareness of the animal - both literal and figurative - as that which perpetually signals the violence of everyday life" (Singh, 2013: 481). Elizabeth questions why the immense cruelty to and suffering of nonhuman animals that takes place on a mass scale in contemporary societies is supported by a mass “willed ignorance” (1999: 20), and brings anthropocentric reasoning and representation under scrutiny, linking it to other forms of oppression and othering in such a way that it challenges hierarchisation.

At the same time, Coetzee portrays the difficulty and limitations of any form of representation of the nonhuman animal, as well as that of enacting political change. The rest of this study investigates the limitations of the ‘sympathetic imagination’ while also exploring its potential and proposing its value as an alternative approach to the subject of human-animal relations. The next chapter focuses on the multi-faceted representation in The Lives of Animals and its effects on receptivity, for as is argued, it is imperative that the form and context of the work are discussed before an analysis of its content take place.

Chapter Two: Coetzee and Unsettling Boundaries of (Re)presentation

2.1. Introduction

Coetzee unsettles multiple boundaries of representation with The Lives of Animals in terms of both content and form. The text consists of two lectures that are represented in two short stories and presented by the fictional Elizabeth Costello, who, as is discussed, is believed by various critics to be Coetzee’s alter ego. These two fictional stories, which consist of Elizabeth, her family members and her audience, were originally presented by Coetzee at the Tanner Lectures to a real audience. This chapter investigates the multi-layered intricacies of representation which make The Lives of Animals such a complex work, exploring its potential effects on reception. These elements of representation include the original context of the work, genre(s), mode(s) of communication, the relation of the text to the author, and the reception of and responses to these elements. This chapter demonstrates that the arguments made in the text cannot be analysed without an analysis of these elements. It seeks to exemplify how the ideas (re)presented in the work are inseparable from the form and representational complexities of the text. It argues that Coetzee opens a space for a re-imagination of the animal through bringing human(ist) constructions and practices into question. It focuses on elements of representation and rhetoric, which are shown to be fundamental to Coetzee’s project.

Section 2.2 of this chapter explores The Lives of Animals in terms of Coetzee’s experimental (re)presentation, revealing the significance of the intricate relation between form and content. Speech and writing, and imagination and reality become intertwined in Coetzee’s unsettling of categorical boundaries of (re)presentation. The multimodal nature of the work is discussed along with its metafictional aspects, which are interconnected in their significance and effect on the topic of human-animal relations addressed in the text.

Section 2.3 of this chapter discusses Coetzee’s relation to The Lives of Animals, which is particularly complex due to its metafictional form. Coetzee’s personal views surrounding the animal and human-animal relations are analysed in relation to The Lives of Animals and its characters, highlighting the significance and effect of Coetzee’s relation to his text.

Lastly, the multi-layered responses within and to The Lives of Animals are discussed in section 2.4 of this chapter. The multileveled nature of metafiction is reflected in the multileveled nature of response to and within the text. It is proposed that Coetzee pre-empts certain elements of response in his metafictional representation of responses to Elizabeth in the text. Coetzee’s multileveled play with response and what it may reflect about receptivity is explored, specifically with regards to the topic of human-animal relations.

[...]


1 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values is a multiversity lecture series in the humanities.

2 A professor at Princeton University, and founding director of the University Center for Human Values.

3 These academics and their responses are discussed in chapter two of this study.

4 As Derrida affirms, the hierarchical human-animal dichotomy has acted to uphold essentialist accounts of species difference, while homogenizing a multitude of species heterogeneity under the word ‘animal’ (2008: 31-32).

5 It is explained in my theoretical framework that this conception does not disregard the significant role the theory of othering has on race-relations, but rather seeks to avoid re-instating exclusionary, hierarchal conceptions in terms of human-animal relations.

6 While I am aware that the term ‘nonhuman animals’ is still reductive, I use it as a way of making a necessary distinction in the context of this study, while avoiding clumsiness or lengthy descriptions.

7 In this sense, such a reading correlates with Cora Diamond’s, in which she asserts that the title includes “the wounded [human] animal that the story has as its central character” (2008: 48).

8 My use of the term ‘posthumanism’ in this study correlates with that of Cary Wolfe’s. In his book, What is Posthumanism? (2009), his objective is to find ways to push human analysis beyond its inherent anthropocentrism. Wolfe states: “[p]osthumanism in my sense isn’t posthuman at all - in the sense of being ‘after’ our embodiment has been transcended - but is only posthumanist, in the sense that it opposes the fantasies of disembodiment and autonomy, inherited from humanism itself. [...] Posthumanism names a historical moment in which the decentering of the human by its imbrication in technical, medical, informatic, and economic networks is increasingly impossible to ignore, a historical development that points toward the necessity of new theoretical paradigms” (2009: xv-xvi).

9 These terms and perspectives are explained in the theoretical framework section of this study as they require more space than this introduction can offer.

10 Including his essay Meat Country (1995), parts of his autobiography Boyhood (1997), and his novels Disgrace (1999) and Elizabeth Costello (2003).

11 As Steiner notes, “[a]nthropocentric arguments have long exercised their influence on thinking about animals in the history of Western philosophy” (2010: 2).

12 Instrumental approaches reduce and objectify the nonhuman animal, treating them, “with few exceptions, as property, exempt from ethical concern except of most marginal and precarious kinds” (Plumwood, 2002: 9).

13 Ecocriticism, “as a theoretical discourse, negotiates between the human and the nonhuman worlds” (Glotfelty and Fromm 1996: xix).

14 For example, mass factory farming, which “nearly 65 billion” nonhuman animals are subjected to worldwide, and which produces most store-bought meat, has been found to be “the major cause of man-made global warming” (EcoWatch, 2013). Moreover, it “has polluted streams and rivers; it has injected massive amounts of antibiotics and other drugs into the public food supply, resulting in serious health risks” (Carson, 1997: 7).

15 PETA (People for the ethical treatment of animals), the largest animal rights organization of our time, fight against the inhumane treatment of billions of nonhuman animals, taking place in the name of humans each day.

16 Though there are many varieties of this approach, “utilitarianism is generally held to be the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. [.] [T]he theory is a form of consequentialism: the right action is understood entirely in terms of consequences produced” (Driver, 2014: 114).

17 “‘Deontology’ is commonly used in moral philosophy to refer to nonconsequentialist moral conceptions. The most distinctive feature of deontological moral conceptions is that they define fundamental principles of right and justice in terms other than taking the most effective means to promote maximum good” (Freeman, 2001: 391).

18 A term coined by Richard Ryder in 1970 referring to (human) prejudice against nonhuman animals which Wolfe says involves “the ethical acceptability of the systematic ‘noncriminal putting to death’ of animals based solely on their species” (2003: 7).

19 ‘Humanism’, in this study, refers to Western humanist thought: “a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities - particularly rationality” (Wolfe, 2010: xi, my emphasis).

20 For example, Kheel (1985) challenges such approaches to animal rights arguing that they maintain traditional patriarchal systems of thought which underlie the oppression of women and nonhuman animals.

21 Analytic philosophy became dominant in Western countries at the beginning of the 20th century, and makes use of conceptual analysis, formal logic, and is more closely related to the sciences and mathematics, than to the humanities (McGinn, 2002: xi).

22 The term continental was originally used to refer to philosophy outside the analytic philosophy movement. However, “there are several ways of defining the category, and even more ways of trying to distinguish it from its counterpart, ‘analytic philosophy’” (Calarco & Atterton, 2004: 7). In this study, the fact that “the notion that humanist and anthropocentric conceptions of subjectivity must be called into question is one of the fundamental convictions of many people working on animals in Continental philosophy” (2004: 7) is what is relevant.

23 For example: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s ‘Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature’ (1975) uses Kafka as a basal figure in unsettling the dualistic human-animal divide. Jacques Derrida references Kafka and his “vast zoopoetics”, as “something that [...] solicits attention, endlessly and from a novel perspective” in his ‘The Animal That Therefore I Am’ (Derrida, 1997: 374). Coetzee, apart from his literary references to Kafka and his nonhuman animals, also wrote an academic study of one of his nonhuman animal stories, ‘The Burrow’ (Coetzee, 1981).

24 In his ‘Eighth Elegy’, Rilke names the nonhuman animal’s consciousness as superior to that of humans “because the animal’s being is typified by an innate alertness to corporeal existence so complete that it takes in death without separating to from aliveness” (Keane, 2013).

25 See Gifford (2011) for a posthumanist reading of Ted Hughes’ nonhuman animal poetry.

26 Such as the discussed ecofeminist Mary Midgely (1985), or philosophers Jacques Derrida (2008), and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1998), for instance.

27 E.g.: Anton Leist and Peter Singer (2010), as well as Guttman’s and Singer’s responses included in the Reflections on the text (1999).

28 E.g.: Marjorie Garber, one of the scholars whose responses to the text is included in the Reflections section, asks: “What does the emphasis on animals tell us about people ” (1999: 75) and “we thought John Coetzee was talking about animals. Could it be, however, that all along he was really asking, ‘What is the value of literature?’” (1999: 84). Louis Tremaine argues that Coetzee’s “personal interest in and respect for the conscious lives of animals are quite genuine, but the insight these passages hold for a reader of Coetzee’s novels bears more importantly on human experience” (2003: 598). Michael Bell even suggests that nonhuman animals in the text are “a Trojan horse designed to deconstruct the nature of conviction in relation to all fundamental life issues” (2006: 116).

29 Cruelty to nonhuman animals is a universal phenomenon, as is anthropocentrism. A postcolonial analysis is not based on any idea of one culture as less anthropocentric than another, or a demonization of Western culture, but rather highlights linked systems of ‘othering’ that have justified the mistreatment of both humans and nonhuman animals.

30 As Wolfe asserts, posthumanism “points toward the necessity of new theoretical paradigms, a new mode of thought that comes after the cultural repressions and fantasies, the philosophical protocols and evasions, of humanism as a historically specific phenomenon” (2010: xv-xvi).

31 See Sedgwick & Adam (2003) for an in-depth discussion on re-instating dualism through invoking the ‘nondualis’, in which they argue that “it’s far easier to deprecate the confounding, tendenituous effects of binary modes of thinking [...] than it is to articulate or model other structures of thought. Even to invoke nondualis, as plenty of Buddhist sutras point out, is to tumble right into this dualistic trap” (2003: 1-2).

32 Problems such as the interrelated ecological, environmental, and mass animal cruelty issues mentioned in section 1.2 of this chapter.

33 Derrida notes that in Western history these ideas include the Copernican revolution, the Darwinian recapture of the human to the animal kingdom, and the Freudian questioning of a human subject in control of itself (2003: 138139).

34 See Donovan and Adams (2007: 5-6) and Wolfe (2009: 272).

35 For example, in Beasts of Burden (2011), Sunaura Taylor discusses the intersectionality of disability and animality, arguing that the same ideology, ‘ableism’, oppresses both groups.

36 Derrida's story of his pet cat staring at his naked human body deconstructs the human-animal dualism by subverting power relations through expressing the power of the nonhuman animal's "bottomless gaze", which exposes "the abyssal limit of the human" in the “absolute alterity” of the nonhuman animal (2008: 12).

37 Posthumanist ecofeminism rests on the same anti-anthropocentric perspectives as posthumanism but focuses specifically on the role of patriarchy in the othering and subordination of both women and nonhuman animals. For example, see Plumwood (2001) and Gaard (1993; 2017).

38 Postcolonial in the sense that “if there exists today such a thing called ‘the postcolonial condition’, it is no longer sufficient to understand it as that which plagues those regions of the world that have endured colonial rule; ‘postcolonial’ signals not a set of geopolitical regions and their peoples, but names our own historical moment” (Borrel, 2009: 209).

39 Australia, like South Africa, was colonised by European settlers, making it a postcolonial region. Significantly, Coetzee emigrated to Australia in 2002 and currently resides there.

40 The sensitivity of discussing nonhuman animal oppression alongside that of marginalised human groups is discussed in detail in chapter three of this study, arguing that they cannot be equated, but that any hope to dissolve either requires an approach that embraces their interconnectedness.

41 This novel reveals the extent to which ‘humanity’ and ‘humanitarianism’ are intertwined with the culture of patriarchy. Its reception was controversial due to the likening of human and nonhuman animal situations in South Africa, among other things.

42 A hybrid literary text (or cross-genre text) is a genre in literature that blends themes and elements from two or more different genres (Ousby, 1995: 367).

43 Postcolonial scholars challenge the Eurocentric approach that dualistically separates orality from text, and denies any relationship between philosophy, myth and cosmology based on the characterisation of philosophy as a rational and critical inquiry, while myth and cosmology are taken as belonging to the purely fictional realm of stories, folktales etc. (Okpewho, 1983: 44).

44 There has been a recent merging of post-colonial and ecocritical analysis in literature which, according to Tiffin and Huggen, has “over the last decade or so, given greater visibility to the ecological dimensions of earlier postcolonial analyses, [and the] need for a broadly materialist understanding of the changing relationship between people, animals and the environment” (2010:19).

45 Such as comparing the cruelty of factory farming to the Holocaust and slavery.

46 As Wolfe, citing Derrida, asserts: “the humanist concept of subjectivity is inseparable from the discourse and institution of a speciesism which relies on the tacit acceptance that the full transcendence to the human requires the sacrifice of the animal and the animalistic, which in turn makes possible a symbolic economy in which we can engage in a ‘noncriminal putting to death’, as Derrida phrases it, not only of animals but of humans as well by marking them as animal” (1998: 39).

47 See Wolfe (2007: 6).

48 Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid to late 20th century and that marked a departure from modernism. While encompassing a wide variety of approaches, it is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward the ideologies and assumptions of modernism (Duignan, 2018).

49 Lyotard highlights the increasing skepticism of the postmodern condition toward the totalizing nature of metanarratives and their reliance on some form of "transcendent and universal truth” (1979: xxv).

50 Receptivity can be described as “a practical capacity and source of normativity regarding attitude and reception, and is discussed and developed in various ways by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stanley Cavell and Martin Heidegger, among others” (Kompridis, 2006: 199).

51 For a more systematic and elaborate account of Kompridis’ conception of receptivity, see: ‘Receptivity, Possibility and Democratic Politics’, in Ethics & Global Politics (2011: 255-72); ‘Romanticism’, in Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature (2009: 247-70); and Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future (2006: 199-223)

52 In A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957), Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency in order to mentally function in the real world, as a person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable. Therefore, people are motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance, which occurs when confronted with new information that contradicts existing beliefs, ideals, and values, by actively avoiding situations and contradictory information that are likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance.

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Details

Title
Re-imagining the Animal in J.M. Coetzee’s 'The Lives of Animals'. Unsettling Boundaries of Representation
College
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Course
Masters degree research in English Literature
Grade
A
Author
Year
2019
Pages
140
Catalog Number
V987377
ISBN (eBook)
9783346346810
ISBN (Book)
9783346346827
Language
English
Notes
I received CUM LAUDE (distinction) for this thesis.
Keywords
The Lives of Animals, J.M. Coetzee, Literature, Philosophy
Quote paper
Amy Wattam (Author), 2019, Re-imagining the Animal in J.M. Coetzee’s 'The Lives of Animals'. Unsettling Boundaries of Representation, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/987377

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