Animal Rites American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory
by Cary Wolfe, foreword by W. J. T. Mitchell
University of Chicago Press, 2002
Cloth: 978-0-226-90513-6 | Paper: 978-0-226-90514-3 | Electronic: 978-0-226-90512-9
ABOUT THIS BOOKAUTHOR BIOGRAPHYTABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THIS BOOK

In Animal Rites, Cary Wolfe examines contemporary notions of humanism and ethics by reconstructing a little known but crucial underground tradition of theorizing the animal from Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Lyotard to Lévinas, Derrida, Žižek, Maturana, and Varela. Through detailed readings of how discourses of race, sexuality, colonialism, and animality interact in twentieth-century American culture, Wolfe explores what it means, in theory and critical practice, to take seriously "the question of the animal."

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Cary Wolfe is a professor of English at the University at Albany, SUNY. He is the author, most recently, of Critical Environments: Postmodern Theory and the Pragmatics of the "Outside" and the editor of Zoontologies: The Question of the Animal.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword

Acknowledgments

- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0001
[animal rights, Luc Ferry, New Ecological Order, ecology, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Demme, The Silence of the Lambs, Ernest Hemingway, Michael Crichton, Congo]
This introductory chapter discusses the coverage of this volume about animal rights. This volume analyzes Luc Ferry's “New Ecological Order” which provides a textbook example of contemporary humanist philosophy's attempt to address the challenge of ecology and animal rights and Ludwig Wittgenstein's aphorism “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.” It also analyzes Jonathan Demme's film “The Silence of the Lambs,” the relevant works of Ernest Hemingway and the special discourse in Michael Crichton's novel “Congo.” (pages 1 - 18)
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Part One

- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0002
[ecology, animal rights, humanism, Luc Ferry, New Ecological Order, environmentalism, liberal democracy, Tom Regan, Peter Singer]
This chapter explores the issues of ecology, animal rights and the poverty of humanism in the context of Luc Ferry's book “New Ecological Order.” It analyzes Ferry's humanist frame which shows how radical environmentalism and animal rights emerge as distinct problematics and his discussion of the relation between radical ecology and liberal democracy. This chapter also provides an overview of animal rights philosophy as expounded by Tom Regan and Peter Singer. (pages 21 - 43)
This chapter is available at:
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- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0003
[humans, animals, Ludwig Wittgenstein, philosophy, language, ethics, Stanley Cavell, Vicki Hearne, Jean-François Lyotard, Emmanuel Lévinas]
This chapter examines Ludwig Wittgenstein's aphorism “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him” to reevaluate how distinctly different figures in contemporary philosophy and theory have thought about the question of language in relation to the difference between humans and animals. It aims to determines the theoretical conditions of possibility under which claims about the difference between human and animal might matter. This chapter also analyzes the relevant views of Stanley Cavell, Vicki Hearne, Jean-François Lyotard and Emmanuel Lévinas about language and ethics. (pages 44 - 94)
This chapter is available at:
    University Press Scholarship Online

Part Two

- Jonathan Elmer
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0004
[The Silence of the Lambs, John Demme, psychoanalysis, ideology, species, Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter, psychoanalytic discourse, Jonathan Elmer]
This chapter analyzes psychoanalysis, ideology and the discourse of the species in Jonathan Demme's film The Silence of the Lambs. It suggests that cross-species identification for the character of Clarice Starling lies at the trauma for which the law of culture is felt to be compensatory. This chapter argues that Starling's relationship with Hannibal Lecter mobilizes and at the same time evacuates psychoanalytic discourse. It also discusses Jonathan Elmer's criticism on the film. (pages 97 - 121)
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- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0005
[Ernest Hemingway, race, gender, species, The Sun Also Rises, The Garden of Eden, modernism, cross-gender identification, gender codes]
This chapter examines the depiction of race, gender and species in the works of Ernest Hemingway, particularly “The Sun Also Rises” and “The Garden of Eden.” It aims to show that the current tendency to view modernism as the more or less retrograde forerunner of our own more progressive attitudes about race, gender, or species is self-flattering and (at best) only half right. This chapter also discusses observations about Hemingway's interest in cross-gender identification and transgressive play with gender codes. (pages 122 - 168)
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- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0006
[Congo, Michael Crichton, species discourse, neocolonialism, subjectivity, posthumanism, humanism]
This chapter examines the discourse of species in Michael's Crichton's novel “Congo.” It suggests that the novel's logic of neocolonialism is that which organizes its species discourse and that the novel seems to offer an empirically informed and altogether up-to-date questioning of humanism's habit of limiting the issue of subjectivity to the human alone. This chapter also argues that though Crichton's fictional universe offers the most progressive discourse of species, it considers species distinction only as a problem of management in the posthuman context. (pages 169 - 189)
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- Cary Wolfe
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226905129.003.0007
[animal rights, postmodern ethics, animals, posthumanist theory, Great Ape Project, United States Animal Welfare Act]
This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on animal rights or the question of the animal. It suggests that we should be nondiscriminatory with regard to species in recognizing the characteristics and potentialities that are widely agreed to constitute the subject of a life. This chapter also highlights the problem in approaching the question of ethics and animals in purely pragmatic or immanent terms. It also discusses postmodern ethics, the imperatives of posthumanist theory and the Great Ape Project or the revision and upgrading of the United States Animal Welfare Act. (pages 190 - 208)
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Notes

Index