Animal Ascension: Elevation and Debasement Through Human-Animal Associations in English Satire, 1700-1820
Animals were integral to conceptions of human identity and society in the long eighteenth century. English satirists employed human-animal associations in their undermining and subversion of authority, and wielded animal symbolism as a tool for both praise and vilification. Progressively, these associations formed processes of human debasement and animal elevation that blurred the traditional distinctions between species, and allowed for Animal Ascension. This study of animals in eighteenth-century satire draws upon both literary and visual sources to investigate how these satirists engaged with a rich foundational ‘Animal Vocabulary,’ contemporary theories and debates surrounding animal faculties and human exceptionalism, and their own personal relationship with other species. The first chapter shall introduce the Scriblerians, their peers, and the nature of satire as it was understood in England at this time. The second chapter will expand upon the traditions and genres that predated the works studied, and how these influenced the Scriblerians. The third chapter investigates human debasement through individual attacks, social regulation and geopolitics. The fourth chapter turns to animal elevation as a powerful didactic tool supported by a developing admiration for animalkind. The fifth chapter considers how the distinctions between humans and animals were the subject of vigorous debates, and explores how animal elevation was compounded by satirical inversion. Finally, the chapter also discusses theories of decivilization and presents a short case study of the North American colonies held by Britain during the eighteenth century, in order to demonstrate that European colonial fears were often hinged upon animal practice and observation.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/27991
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