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Graduate Summer 2019: Akash Belsare

Humanimal Narratives: Genre and Animality in Contemporary Ethnic Literatures

Department of English

Humanimal Narratives: Genre and Animality in Contemporary Ethnic Literatures

My project asks how authors of color engage with animals in contemporary literature—despite (or due to) a deep history in which nonhuman animals and raced bodies have been primitivized, animalized, or otherwise marginalized alongside each other—and what results from this engagement. Rather than offer a comparative model for reading humanimal narratives, I consider relationality and entanglement of human-animal encounters in contemporary ethnic fiction. The texts I examine intensify and exploit this entanglement—often to the point of categorical splintering—while remaining cognizant of an intractable history that continues to subjugate raced beings and nonhuman animals. Collectively, these works help articulate, resist, and fundamentally undo the conditions of what Sylvia Wynter refers to as Western Man and Humanism.