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Title: Creaturely forms : encounters with animality in W.G. Sebald, J.M. Coetzee and Mahasweta Devi
Author: O'Key, Dominic Edward
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 3972
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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What role does literature play in mediating, contesting and reconfiguring the relations between humanity and animality? How do authors tell stories about human mastery over animals? And what capacity does literature have, both formally and thematically, to position the human with and alongside animality, rather than against it? In this thesis, I offer an answer to these questions by exploring the writing of three late-twentieth-century authors - W. G. Sebald, J. M. Coetzee, and Mahasweta Devi - who each developed a literary attentiveness towards the animal. The burgeoning discipline of critical animal studies teaches us that literature plays an important role in dramatising the relations between the species. Elsewhere, theories of biopolitics, feminism and critical race studies reveal that the 'human' is discursively produced in contradistinction to what is deemed not-human. But until now, animal studies has tended to concentrate on the representation of animals; and biopolitics has tended to prioritise the human over the animal. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge by introducing the term creaturely forms in order to analyse how the representation of both human and nonhuman life is inextricable from questions of literary form, and how the politics of literature is connected to the question of who or what counts as 'human'. Informed by the recent re-emergence of the concept of the 'creaturely' in critical theory, this thesis argues that writers such as Sebald, Coetzee and Mahasweta develop creaturely forms: they reshape literary forms so as to accommodate animality, to unmake hegemonic modalities of subjectivity, and to question literature's role in reproducing the human over the animal; in doing so, these forms of writing affirm a less narrowly human, and hence more creaturely, form of life.
Supervisor: Finch, Helen ; Durrant, Sam Sponsor: University of Leeds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available