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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 2 - The Incessant Care of the Victorian Shepherd

from Part I - Anti-Cruelty Legislation and Animal Welfare

Summary

This chapter analyzes animal welfare texts published by the RSPCA in the late 1830s and written by William Drummon, John Styles, and William Youatt; articles from the RSPCA’s journal Animal World; and the discourse from the Vegetarian Society and London Vegetarian Society. I argue that the RSPCA constructed animal subjectivity within forms of pastoral power that reinforced their subjection. At the same time, the RSPCA’s construction of animals as subjects with thoughts, feelings, character, and individuality cultivated a striking liberalized animal subject that both challenged and reinforced the anthropocentric logic structuring Victorian liberalism. Taken together, all three organizations demonstrate the extent to which animals were influenced by nineteenth-century political thought and affected by governmentality, yet at times succeeded in challenging the primacy of a liberal human subject and the dominance of Victorian liberalism.