The Victorian period witnessed the beginning of a debate on the status of animals that continues today. Victorian Animal Dreams explicitly acknowledges the way twenty-first-century deliberations about animal rights and the fact of past and prospective animal extinction haunt the discussion of the Victorians' obsession with animals. Combining close attention to historical detail with a sophisticated analytical framework, the contributors examine the various forms of human dominion over animals, including imaginative possession of animals in the realms of fiction, performance, and the visual arts, as well as physical control as manifest in hunting, killing, vivisection and zookeeping. The diverse range of topics, analyzed from a contemporary perspective, makes Victorian Animal Dreams a significant contribution to Victorian studies. The conclusion by Harriet Ritvo, the pre-eminent authority in the field of Victorian/animal studies, provides valuable insight into the burgeoning field of animal studies and points toward future studies of animals in the Victorian period.
"Danahay and Morse have provided Victorianists and students of animal studies with a valuable and timely collection. Ranging from studies of beetlemania to elephant slaughter and the market for whale meat, the diverse essays included here illuminate the complexities of Victorian love of and desire for dominance over the natural world."
– Barbara T. Gates, University of Delaware, USA
"[...] a particularly welcome addition to Victorian scholarship and to the emerging field of animal studies [...] Uniformly well written and engaged with emerging scholarship on the Victorians and animals, these essays address a variety of canonical and noncanonical texts from the Victorian age. Recommended."
"[...] essential reading for all scholars in animal studies [...] anyone who teaches the subject will certainly find things in here to recommend to students [...]"
– British Society for Literature and Science
"If one wanted to begin a research project, design a seminar, or write a lecture on Victorian animals, this volume would be an excellent place to start. [...] all of the essays in the collection uncover valuable new material. [...] Overall, the collection presents an admirable scholarly depth and purchase on historical and literary detail, suggesting that this new field of Victorian animal studies has reached a point of substantive maturity and that it deserves serious attention and wider recognition among Victorianists."
– Victorian Studies
- General editor's preface
- Introduction, Deborah Denenholz Morse and Martin A. Danahay
Part I Science and Sentiment
- Animal angst: Victorians memorialize their pets, Teresa Mangum
- Victorian beetlemania, Cannon Schmitt
- Killing elephants: pathos and prestige in the 19th century, Nigel Rothfels
- Designs after nature: evolutionary fashions, animals and gender, Susan David Bernstein
- Dying like a dog in Great Expectations, Ivan Kreilkamp
Part II Sex and Violence
- Nature red in hoof and paw: domestic animals and violence in Victorian culture, Martin A. Danahay
- 'The crossing o' breeds' in The Mill on the Floss, Mary Jean Corbett
- Horses and social/sexual dominance, Elsie B. Michie
- Pacific harvests: whales and albatrosses in 19th-century markets, Anca Vlasopolos
Part III Sin and Bestiality
- 'The mark of the beast': animals as sites of imperial encounter from Wuthering Heights to Green Mansions, Deborah Denenholz Morse
- Beastly criminals and criminal beasts: stray women and stray dogs in Oliver Twist, Grace Moore
- The sin of sloths: the moral status of fossil megatheria in Victorian culture, Alan Rauch
- Tiger tales, Heather Schell
- The empire bites back: the racialized crocodile of the 19th century, Mary Elizabeth Leighton and Lisa Surridge
Afterword, Harriet Ritvo
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Deborah Denenholz Morse is Associate Professor of English at the College of William and Mary, USA. Martin A. Danahay is Professor of English at Brock University, Canada.