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Chapter 5 - Victorian

Character, Politics, and Racialization

from Part I - Literary Periods

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2023

Derek Ryan
Affiliation:
University of Kent, Canterbury
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Summary

This chapter accounts for how animals appear in Victorian literature in connection with two overarching themes: shifting definitions of the animal and the human, especially in relationship to racialization and empire, and the incorporation of animals into the political sphere, especially as they proliferate throughout daily life. Both themes offer a productive and foundational lens to analyze the vast representations of animals across Victorian literature, and relate to a variety of other topics such as care and control, domesticity and the family, class and gender, and imperial strategies. Through examining a range of genres, from realist texts and animal autobiography to travel narratives and the literature of empire, this chapter demonstrates how relationships with animals shifted how Victorians saw themselves, their animals, and those across the empire. The chapter argues that texts by authors such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Anna Sewell, Thomas Hardy, Olive Schriener, H. Rider Haggard, Mary Kingsley, and Richard Marsh, among others, illuminate the broader implications of extending political care to animals, controlling them across the empire, and using them to account for human difference through demarcating racial categories and structuring the borders of the human.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Victorian
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.007
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  • Victorian
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.007
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Victorian
  • Edited by Derek Ryan, University of Kent, Canterbury
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Animals
  • Online publication: 26 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009300032.007
Available formats
×