[Sca-cooks] fwd: [Lochac] Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in Early Modern Literature (review available)

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Tue Aug 23 20:57:18 PDT 2011

This came across the Lochac list today.

I thought some folks here might be interested in this, particularly  
Chapter 4.


Boehrer, Bruce Thomas. <i>Animal Characters: Nonhuman Beings in
Early Modern Literature</i>. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2010. Pp. 256. $49.95. ISBN: 978-0-08122-4249-

Bruce Thomas Boehrer's monograph, <i>Animal Characters</i>, seeks
to explore some of the particularities of animal representation in
early modern literature. Focusing on a different animal in each
chapter, Boehrer explores both literal and symbolic uses of animals
in a wide range of (mostly English) literary productions. His
approach is interdisciplinary, and he employs a range of
methodologies, dependent upon the source material (and the specific
animal) under consideration.

Chapter 1, "Baiardo's Legacy," focuses on the horse.

Chapter 2, "The Cardinal's Parrot,"

The third chapter, "Ecce Feles," is the only chapter in the book
that deals directly with animal cruelty, specifically the wanton
torture of cats.

Chapter 4, "The People's Peacock," discusses the introduction of
the turkey to Europe.

The final chapter is entitled "Vulgar Sheepe," and addresses the
consistently symbolic presentation of ovine creatures in early
modern literature. Boehrer coins "sheepspeak" to describe a process
of "thinking with sheep" (164) that is key to understanding
Despite this, Boehrer's book is a thought-provoking and interesting
read. While the cultural shifts it charts may be familiar ground to
many, the approach and methodologies taken are unusual, and offer
new perspectives on the material. To read literature and, indeed,
history, through the lens of the animal may seem idiosyncratic, and
Boehrer addresses this head-on. In doing so, he offers a history of
anthropocentrism, which goes some way to rethinking (early) modern
notions of personhood.

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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