Publication Date

5-2014

Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

3-11-2014

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis - Boise State University Access Only

Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature

Department

English

Major Advisor

Cheryl Hindrichs, Ph.D.

Abstract

Conventional literary representations of animals have often relegated various animal species to symbols and objects, thereby disavowing animals of their subjecthoods; recent posthumanist approaches reconsider Western philosophical tradition in order to note how human discourse functions to preserve through repetition the Man/Animal binary and its corresponding species boundary. This thesis responds to posthumanist theory by focusing on how the literary representations of animals in J. M. Coetzee’s fiction and Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss reveal the human authority that constructs meaning in texts. As postcolonial writers, Coetzee and Desai raise questions about human systems of authority and knowledge and about established hierarchies, but many critics and readers have overlooked how animals are implicated in these human orders. Since both Coetzee and Desai represent multiple species throughout their novels, a posthumanist reading of these human constructions—one that first deconstructs the human gaze and the animal representations—leads to a richer understanding of intersubjective experiences. This revised reading relies on the theoretical approaches of Coetzee, Homi K. Bhabha, and Jacques Derrida and ultimately offers unfamiliar directions for thinking about literary animals.

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