The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism responds to a need to expand and refine the connections among nonhuman studies and American literary naturalism and to productively expand the scholarly discourse surrounding this vital movement in American literary history. This collection focuses on that which becomes visible when the human subject is skirted, or moved off-center: in other words, the representation of nonhuman animals and other vital or inert species, things, entities, cityscapes and seascapes, that play an important part in American literary naturalism. Informed by animal studies, ecocriticism, posthumanism, new materialism, and other recent theoretical perspectives, the essays in this collection discuss early naturalist texts as well as more recent naturalistic-oriented authors.
Karin M. Danielsson is associate professor in English at Mälardalen University.
Kenneth K. Brandt is professor of English at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Section I: Other Species
Chapter 1. The Outer Animals: Non-Othered Nonhumans in McTeague
Karin M. Danielsson
Chapter 2: Jack London and the Perils of Human Exceptionalism—or Jack London’s Call for Species Interdependence
Chapter 3: The Social Contract and Human-Animal Equality in Dreiser’s “McEwen of the Shining Slave Makers”
Chapter 4: Extinction, Genocide, and Atomic Anxiety: Storks in Hemingway’s Under Kilimanjaro
Section II: Land and Sea
Chapter 5: Environment, Emotion, and the Individual in “The Open Boat”
Chapter 6: Anthropomorphism Reconsidered: Nature Faking in Jack London’s “All Gold Canyon”
Chapter 7: “Love” of the Land as Agrilogistic Tragedy in O Pioneers!: Hazards while Embracing Nonhumans
Section III: Cityscapes and Pseudonature
Chapter 8: Wharton’s Architectural Imagination in The House of Mirth
Chapter 9: Pseudonature in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth
Chapter 10: Naturalism’s Nonhuman Streets: Food and Waste in Ann Petry’s Writing
Cara Erdheim Kilgallen
Section IV: Image, Object, Text
Chapter 11: Between Word and Image: Western Landscape and Photographic Rhetoric in Stephen Crane’s Prose Writing
Chapter 12: “The Cruel Radiance of What Is”: The Reality of Things in James Agee and Walker Evans’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Section V: Last Things
Chapter 13 Trouble with Human-Nonhuman Distinctions in Dreiser, London, Hamilton, and Dick
Kenneth K. Brandt
Chapter 14: Davids and Goliaths: Last Days Reconciliation Between Humans and Nonhumans in Don DeLillo’s Zero K and Kurt Vonnegut’s Galápagos
Chapter 15: Writing What Remains: Naturalism and the Nonhuman after Nature in Sheri S. Tepper’s Plague of Angels Trilogy
About the Contributors
In this volume, scholars from Italy, Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the U.S.A. investigate works of American literary naturalism through the intersection of literature, culture, and the physical environment. By analyzing the Nonhuman elements surrounding human subjects in classic and contemporary naturalist writers, the contributors create fresh insights into the links between theory and criticism and the global ecological crisis.
The Nonhuman in American Literary Naturalism is an illuminating and provocative collection that will stimulate readers to expand their humancentric perspectives to understand the role of the nonhuman—animals, but also entities, processes, and agricultural and urban spaces—in literary naturalism and also its heir, science fiction.
This book makes a substantial contribution to ecocritical and animal studies scholarship. Engaging with (post)humanism, literary aesthetics, and cultural theory, the collection offers fascinating analyses of relationships between humans and Nature—wild and cultivated, constructed, imagined, represented, and speculative. These fresh, original readings demonstrate, more than ever, the continued relevance of American literary naturalism as a field for expanding conversations about humans’ interaction with the environment, human agency, ethics, and aesthetics.