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Men, Women, and Beasts: Elizabeth I and Beastly Bridegrooms

  • Jo Eldridge Carney
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

Abstract

In 2001, in the online magazine Nerve, philosopher Peter Singer published a review of Dearest Pet, naturalist Midas Dekker’s book on the history of bestiality. In his review, “Heavy Petting,” Singer points out that the taboo against human-animal sex still prevails even though most other taboos against nonprocreative sex have given way. According to Singer, the persistence of this taboo in spite of documented evidence of interspecies sexual contact is indicative of our ambivalent relationship with animals. Human-animal interactions, Singer explains, have served a variety of purposes: labor, procurement of food, emotional fulfillment—and even sexual satisfaction. On the other hand, we have “always seen ourselves as distinct from animals and imagined that a wide, unbridgeable gulf separates us from them,” particularly in the western tradition from Genesis to the Renaissance to Kant.1 The recent proliferation of academic interest in animal studies seeks to interrogate these entrenched cultural perceptions about the human-animal divide.2

Keywords

Wild Boar Fairy Tale Early Modern Period Queen Mother World Picture 
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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Notes

  1. 4.
    The influence of Ovid’s Metamorphoses on the animal-bridegroom tale type is an important but separate line of inquiry. The beastly transformations in Ovid largely comprise gods exercising their power over mortals within a different hierarchal construct rather than contact between humans and animals. See Page DuBois, Centaurs and Amazons: Women and the Pre-History of the Great Chain of Being (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991). Several contemporary authors have also explored the animal-human romantic or sexual relationship in fairy tales, most notably Angela Carter in her short story collection, The Bloody Chamber (New York: Penguin, 1979).Google Scholar
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© Jo Eldridge Carney 2012

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  • Jo Eldridge Carney

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