By: Moira Ferguson
174 pages, no illustrations
Animal Advocacy and Englishwomen, 1780-1900 focuses on women writers and their struggle to protect animals from abuse in the transition from preindustrial to Victorian society. Looking critically at the work of Sarah Trimmer, Susanna Watts, Elizabeth Heyrick, Anna Sewell, and Frances Power Cobb, Moira Ferguson explores the links between Britain's evolving self-definition and the debate over the humane treatment of animals. Ferguson contends that animal-advocacy writing during this period provided a means for women to register their moral outrage over national problems extending far beyond those of animal abuse, effectively allowing them to achieve a public voice as citizens. The writers in question represent multiple genres, time frames, and political approaches. Taken together, their productive lives span more than a century. They are ideologically divided on animal protection, and their political identities range from conservative Anglican Tories to radical reformers. Through their plural discourses on animal advocacy, these women actively participated in an ongoing humanitarian struggle that forged a connection between Englishness and kindness to animals, intensifying as industry and empire advanced, and effectively linked gender with national identity and self-definition. Their concerns resonate in a global as well as a national context; cruelty to animals emerges as a metaphor for imperial predation. In this sense, the writings constitute a gendered response to an evolving colonial discourse about others. Moira Ferguson is James E. Ryan Professor of English and Women's Literature, University of Nebraska. Her books include "Subject to Others: Colonial Slavery, 1670-1834;Colonialism and Gender: Relations from Mary Wollstonecraft to Jamaica Kincaid; East Caribbean Connections"; and "The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself,"
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