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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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Rethinking Liberal Subjectivity

Rethinking Liberal Subjectivity

The Biopolitics of Animal Autobiography

(p.157) 5 Rethinking Liberal Subjectivity
Animalia Americana

Katharine Lee Bates

Barbara Bush

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the conflation of pets with children by focusing on the genre of animal autobiography—that is, autobiographies written from the perspective of an animal. More specifically, it rethinks the “history of sexuality” as a “history of bestiality” by analyzing the gender politics of animal autobiography. To this end, the chapter situates Millie's Book, as Dictated to Barbara Bush (1990) in relation to a broader genealogy of queer animal autobiography, with particular emphasis on works by Katharine Lee Bates and Virginia Woolf. It shows that animal autobiographies explore structures of objectification that unsettle the biopolitics they are meant to affirm, and that animal representations locate a queerness at the very heart of liberal subject formation. It also considers how pets suffer from a double animation—as commodities and as creatures—that situates them at the core of modern biopolitics and concludes by discussing objectification as a mechanism of biopower and the way animals can influence the subject via object relations.

Keywords:   pets, children, animal autobiography, bestiality, gender politics, Katharine Lee Bates, Virginia Woolf, animal representations, animals, biopolitics

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