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The Animal Gaze: Animal Subjectivities in Southern African Narratives

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The Animal Gaze: Animal Subjectivities in Southern African Narratives

by Wendy Woodward

About this title: Many humans do not regard animals as complex beings. Instead, they objectify animals, relate to them as pets, or see them simply as spectacles of beauty or wildness. By contrast, the southern African writers whose work is explored in The Animal Gaze, including Olive Schreiner, Zakes Mda, Yvonne Vera, Eugene N. Marais, J.M. Coetzee, Luis Bernardo Honwana, Michiel Heyns, Marlene van Niekerk and Linda Tucker, represent animals as richly individual subjects. The animals-including cattle, horses, birds, lions, leopards, baboons, dogs, cats and a whale-experience complex emotions and have agency, intentionality and morality, as well as an ability to recognize and fear death. The Animal Gaze engages with the writings of Jacques Derrida, J.M. Coetzee, Val Plumwood and Martha C. Nussbaum, as it brings together literary studies, ethics, animal studies and African traditional thought, including shamanism, in a way that compels the reader to think differently about nonhuman animals and human relationships with them.

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