Animal writing : magical realism and the posthuman other.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Magical realist fiction is marked by a striking abundance of animals. Analysing magical realist novels from Australia and Canada, as well as exploring the influence of two seminal Latin American magical realist narratives, this thesis focuses on representations of animals and animality. Examining human-animal relationships in the postcolonial context reveals that magical realism embodies and represents an idea of feral animality that critically engages with an inherently imperialist and Cartesian humanism, and that, moreover, accounts for magical realism's elusiveness within systems of genre categorisation and labelling. It is this embodiment and presence of animal agency that animates magical realism and injects it with life and vibrancy. The magical realist writers discussed in this dissertation make use of animal practices inextricably intertwined with imperialism, such as pastoral farming, natural historical collections, the circus, the rodeo, the Wild West show, and the zoo, as well as alternative animal practices inherently incompatible with European ideologies, such as the Aboriginal Dreaming, Native North American animist beliefs, and subsistence hunting, as different ways of positioning themselves in relation to the Cartesian human subject. The circus is a particular influence on the form and style of many magical realist texts, whereby oxymoronically structured circensian spaces form the basis of the narratives‟ realities, and hierarchical imperial structures and hegemonic discourses that are portrayed as natural through Cartesian science and Linnaean taxonomies are revealed as deceptive illusions that perpetuate the self-interests of the powerful.