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Animalia AmericanaAnimal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity$
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Colleen Boggs

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161237

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161237.001.0001

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Animals, Affect, and the Formation of Liberal Subjectivity

Animals, Affect, and the Formation of Liberal Subjectivity

Chapter:
(p.133) 4 Animals, Affect, and the Formation of Liberal Subjectivity
Source:
Animalia Americana
Author(s):

Emily Dickinson

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231161237.003.0004

This chapter examines how the scene of bestiality gets rewritten as one of “puppy love” with the rise of sentimentalism in the nineteenth century and its permutations in the twentieth century. In particular, it considers the role played by theories of childhood education for understandings of subjectivity and the way in which infantilization—as a practice, as a strategy—maps animal relations onto psychological and commoditized object relations. The discussion focuses on Emily Dickinson's poetry and her experimentations with animal representations as they relate to affect theory, as well as her use of the explicitly humanist framework of liberal subject formation to radically rethink the parameters and representational modes of subject formation. The chapter shows how Dickinson, by engaging with the pedagogical and literary models that became a staple of childhood education in the nineteenth century, stretches our understanding of literary representation beyond symbolization by rethinking orthography as a confrontation with literal animals.

Keywords:   bestiality, childhood education, subjectivity, infantilization, animal relations, object relations, Emily Dickinson, poetry, animal representations, affect theory

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