This book explores a key mechanism of biopolitics by which forms of power ranging from state authority to familial intimacy get conjoined and worked out via animal representations. More specifically, it highlights the crucial role of animals in the ways Americans enact their humanity and regulate subjects in the biopolitical state. Drawing on the writings of Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson, the book explains how biopower thrives on the strategic ambivalence between who is considered human and what is judged as animal. It demonstrates the exceptionality and exemplarity of animals, as both figures of radical alterity and the embodiment of biopolitics, to the biopolitical state. In addressing the cultural and political dimensions of animal representations as well as their significance, the book brings American literary studies in dialogue with critical animal studies.
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