Beastly Modernisms

The Figure of the Animal in Modernist Literature and Culture

Edited by Alex Goody, Saskia McCracken

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A contemporary collection of scholarly essays exploring the vibrant intersections of modernist studies and critical animal studies

  • Presents the diverse range of intersections between modernist and critical animal studies
  • Includes cutting-edge research contributions from a heterogenous and interdisciplinary range of modernist scholars
  • Offers a key research resource for scholars in modernist studies, critical animal studies and cognate areas
  • Provides a classroom-ready collection of essays relevant to undergraduate and graduate courses on modernist writing and critical animal studies

The intersection of modernist studies and critical animal studies is a new, progressive field that raises crucial questions about what it means to live with animals in modernity. Beastly Modernisms gathers essays from leading figures in the field alongside emerging scholars who, together, revisit canonical figures and decentre the canons and geographies of modernism. Grounded in interdisciplinary approaches, the contributions work with cultural history and theoretical frameworks to unearth the multispecies dynamics of twentieth-century literature and culture.

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List of Figures


Introduction: Beastly Modernisms

Saskia McCracken and Alex Goody

Part I: Companion Species

1. Metamodernist Beasts, or Flush’s Future: Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals and Sigrid Nunez’s Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury

Derek Ryan

2. Can Flush Count?: Virginia Woolf, Animality and Numbers

Jane Goldman

3. Canine Companions, Race and Affective Anthropomorphism in Florence Ayscough’s The Autobiography of a Chinese Dog (1926) and Mary Gaunt’s A Broken Journey (1919)

Juanjuan Wu

Part II: Beastly Traces

4. Making an Impression Deeply: Authorising Animals in D. H. Lawrence

Carrie Rohman

5. Following the Beast Familiar: Djuna Barnes’s Family Dramas

Peter Adkins

6. The Taxidermic Imaginary in Modernist Literature

Paul Fagan

Part III: Animal, Nation, Empire

7. Species Cleansing: The Rhetoric of Rat Control in the People’s Republic of Poland 1945–1956

Gabriela  Jarzebowska

8. The Barking Dog and Crying Bird in Partition Stories: Beastly Modernism and the Subaltern Animism of Manto, Rakesh and Anand

Beerendra Pandey

9. Resistant Reindeers: Human–Animal Relations and Cultural Self-Appropriation in Sámi Art and Literature

Katharina Alsen

Part IV: Intersections, Encounters

10. Animal–Human Entanglements in the Canadian Wild Animal Stories of Charles G. D. Roberts

Lauren Cullen

11. Encountering Female Human Animal Becomings in Leonora Carrington’s Surrealist Hybrid Tales

Karen Eckersley

12. Modern Intersections: Reading Anita Scott Coleman’s Animals

Elizabeth Curry

Part V: Extinction, War, Proliferation

13. 1940s Avian Noir

Laura Blomvall

14. Unhoming the Pigeon: Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi

Caroline Hovanec

15. The Modernist Jellyfish

Rachel Murray

Afterword: The Animal in the Mirror

Kari Weil

Notes on Contributors



Overall, these scholars offer a fascinating analysis of the ways in which writers use nonhuman animals to explore and contest the traditional limits of modernism. All of the volume’s essays are informed by sophisticated theoretical positions, but most are clearly written enough for determined undergraduates—although graduate students may find the volume more useful.
R. D. Morrison, Morehead State University, CHOICE

A major contribution to animal studies as well as modernist studies, Beastly Modernisms gathers international perspectives that strategically redeploy modern profusions of beastliness – whether within, without, or betwixt and between (sometimes human) animals – in ways geared to advance timely feminist, antiracist, and decolonial critiques.

Susan McHugh, University of New England
Alex Goody is Professor of Twentieth-Century Literature & Culture at Oxford Brookes University, UK. She is the author of Gender, Leisure Technology and Modernist Poetry: Machine Amusements (2019),Technology, Literature and Culture (2011) and Modernist Articulations: a cultural study of Djuna Barnes, Mina Loy and Gertrude Stein (2007), and co-editor of The Edinburgh Companion to Modernism and Technology (2022), Reading Westworld (2019) and American Modernism: Cultural Transactions (2009).

Saskia McCracken completed her PhD on Virginia Woolf’s Darwinian animal tropes at the University of Glasgow. Her research has been published in The Modern Short Story and Magazine Culture: 1880-1950 (2021), Modernism/Modernity: Reading Modernism in the Sixth Extinction (2022), Animal Satire (2022), Crossing Borders: Transnational Modernism Beyond the Human, and Virginia Woolf and the Anthropocene. She also transcribed the first manuscript draft of Flush: A Biography for the Cambridge edition.

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