In the history of English literatures, the figure of the creature, or the animal, has often been used as a means of marking some members of society (most notably women and non-Europeans) as more instinctive and corporeal and thus as inferior, because less ‘civilised’, to those who are seen as rational and determined, and therefore as capable of moral progress. And yet some thinkers and writers, most notably in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, have sought to contest these tropes, and the binaries that underwrite them, by figuring the animalistic and the creaturely as a potent force of disruption, destabilisation and transformation. This course examines a range of theoretical, fictional and poetic texts from the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that in various ways employ the figure of the creaturely as a force of change – as the harnessing of affective force, and as a gesture towards the occluded and the dispossessed. Over the course of the semester, students will read a selection of late-twentieth- and early-twenty-first-century texts by critical theorists, novelists and poets who are specifically concerned with the ways in which ‘creaturely writing’ can be seen as a force that opens worlds to new ways of being and knowing, to new forms of relationality, and to difference itself. We will ask what happens to the subject, and, importantly, to the claims of politics (Marxist, postcolonial, or feminist), once the binaries that uphold structures of power are destabilised by the force of the creaturely.
NOTE: Students taking this course and intending to do a MAP 4 in English Literatures should have already completed the lecture series course entitled “Survey of English Literatures” (BA English Module 4: English Literature).
A course reader will be made available on Moodle at the beginning of the semester.
In addition, students are expected to acquire the following set texts:
- Abani, Chris. Becoming Abigail.
- Berger, John. King.
- Carson, Anne. Autobiography of Red.