The Tortured Animals of Modernity: Animal Studies and Italian Literature

  • Damiano Benvegnù
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


The current explosion of conferences, books, and discussion networks around the question of the animal testifies to how swiftly Animal Studies has developed in the last 30 years (Weil 3). The investigation of nonhuman animals in modern literature in particular has been a fundamental element in this development, and from the very beginning scholars have focused on literary works in order to analyze human attitudes toward other creatures. However, literary studies has only recently begun to engage in detail with the methodological and theoretical questions surrounding this emphasis on nonhuman animals. A March 2009 special issue of the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (PMLA) helped move questions about animals and human-animal relationships into the mainstream of literary studies. Cary Wolfe’s contribution to the issue notably claims that if Animal Studies is to be something more than merely a thematic approach, it must fundamentally challenge “the schema of the knowing subject and its anthropocentric underpinnings” (569) insofar as these are sustained and reproduced by the current disciplinary protocol of literary studies. Literary Animal Studies is an attempt to mount this challenge, by responding to the difficult ethical and the aesthetic questions that animals present in the domain of literature.


Short Story Human Character Literary Text Literary Animal Animal Presence 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Damiano Benvegnù 2016

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  • Damiano Benvegnù

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