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Title: Being Property Once Myself: In Pursuit of the Animal in 20th Century African American Literature
Authors: Bennett, Joshua Bennett
Advisors: Perry, Imani
Gleason, Bill
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: affect theory
Subjects: African American studies
American literature
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Being Property Once Myself: In Pursuit of the Animal in 20th century African American Literature takes as its central focus the literary imagination, and broader ethical concerns, that have emerged from African American experiences of being configured as the socio-legal equivalents of nonhuman animals. In the midst of such systemic dehumanization, what new ways of thinking about personhood have emerged? How have black authors cultivated a poetics of persistence and interspecies empathy, a literary tradition in which animals are acting up and out in ways we might not expect or yet have a language for? At the level of structure, the dissertation is comprised of four chapters, each of which tracks a specific animal figure—the rat, the cock, the mule and the dog respectively—in the works of four 20th and 21st century authors: Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jesmyn Ward. I am primarily interested in how animal figures are deployed in these texts to make counter-hegemonic arguments about the nature of black social, political and interior life, as well as combat certain foundational claims within the western philosophical tradition regarding the limits of human subjectivity broadly construed.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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