Book manuscript (in progress): The Disorder of Species: Animals in the American Anthropocene
Abstract: The concept of biological “species,” a consequence of the human impulse to organize organismal complexity into taxonomic categories, tends to elide nonhuman difference in its pursuit of order. This project will show how literature and literary language is uniquely positioned to expose the limits of human knowledge about the life forms organized by discourses of species, as well as to explore and challenge the institutions and cultural practices that depend on the categorization of life into discrete kinds.
Article forthcoming in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment: “Composite Creatures: Marianne Moore’s Zoo-logic”
Abstract: Despite recent work in ecocriticism that embraces Marianne Moore’s modernist verse, Moore’s personal and poetic fascination with animals as resources for human use conflicts with the fundamental ecocritical sensibility that denounces anthropocentric habits of exploitation. Addressing the centrality of zoos, circuses, and museums to Moore’s work, this essay argues Moore’s animals figure a zoo-logic, or an understanding of animals developed by encountering them in “unnatural” places. An attention to Moore’s zoo-logic confronts an issue endemic to representations of animals and Moore’s poetry in particular: the uneasy relationship between appreciation and appropriation.
Abstract: Reading Go Down, Moses through the lens of recent work in animal studies demonstrates not only Faulkner’s environmental ethics but, more specifically, the ways in which his fictional representations of animal life resist appropriation by human systems of instrumental use and abuse. Faulkner’s narrative strategy, I argue, foregrounds how nonhuman and human animals are subject to violence once they are named “animal” and underscores how the animal as an abstract concept fails to critically or ethically account for the diverse lives of actual animals. At the level of Faulkner’s own prose, animals erupt from their confinement within language and narrative to call attention to the often reductive and violent gestures of human discourse.