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Posthumanist (auto)ethnography: toward the ethical representation of other animals




Robinson, Christine (Christina) L., author
Doe, Sue, 1957-, advisor
Sloane, Sarah J., committee member
Shaw, Jane, committee member

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This thesis project maps the theoretical reasoning for the extension of ethical considerations about representations of Others to Animal Others, and then offers ethical guidelines for the practical application of such considerations. More specifically, I point to autoethnography as a means of responsibly studying the animal Other in relation to and alliance with the human animal. As such, my project reflects a cross-disciplinary thread of interest seen in English studies, sociology, and anthropology. Notably, I use a selection of mainstream texts to illustrate each of the guidelines and, in the process, demonstrate how autoethnography might enable writers to confront ethical questions, inherently attest to the value of doing so, and thereby begin to actualize the ideological change envisioned by many postcolonial and animal studies scholars. I argue that this kind of change requires writers to fully embrace insights of certain scholars, such as Édouard Glissant's notion of Opacity. I reveal why and how this powerful notion combined with Cary Wolfe's tenets of posthumanist theory should guide the inquiries and written representations of animal Others. In totality, I demonstrate how posthumanist (auto)ethnography performed with opacity is a genre that potentially allows for the most ethical representation of alliances with other animals, why this matters, and to whom. Therefore, this project relates broadly to discussions in animal studies and uses research methodology drawn from the field of rhetoric and composition, as well as sociology and anthropology.


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life writing
animal studies


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