From snakes to sheep, from hyenas to moths, from rural landscapes to childhood objects, this special issue examines the role of nonhuman alterity in the ethics of modernism. Drawing on the posthumanist theory of Jacques Derrida, Bruno Latour, Jane Bennett, and others, “Modernist Ethics and Posthumanism” offers original close readings of both canonical and more marginalized modernist figures. The contributors analyze unrecognizable creatures in D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf; indeterminate animals in E. M. Forster; networks of human and nonhuman agents in Rainer Maria Rilke and Woolf; pacifism among people, animals, and things in Samuel Beckett; responsibility and rural environments in Mary Butts; and objects, both lost and found, and the threat of extinction in Elizabeth Bowen. What emerges from these essays is an account of modernist ethics that is embedded in relations between human and nonhuman and that gains its force through experiments in both content and form.
Derek Ryan is lecturer in modernist literature at the University of Kent and the author of Animal Theory: A Critical Introduction. Mark West is a recent PhD graduate of the University of Glasgow.
Contributors: Gabriel Hankins, Laci Mattison, Stephen Ross, Derek Ryan, Jeff Wallace, Sam Wiseman