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260. Japanese Literature and the Animal in Person

Sat, March 18, 3:00 to 5:00pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Mezzanine, Peel

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel

Abstract

In recent years, the burgeoning field of animal studies has encouraged new lines of inquiry within and across disciplines. Interestingly enough, animal studies, due to its interdisciplinary nature, does not accord any special privilege to literature or texts per se, and yet the study of animals in literature has resulted in something of renewal of literary studies, as the field has taken on the challenge of reconfiguring its central questions through a dialogue with other disciplines. The focus on animals has transformed the study of narrative form, encouraged a reconfiguration of prior constellations of texts, and renewed inquiry into the social impact and political implications of literature. This panel aims to take up the challenge of animal studies in the context of Japanese literature by focusing on the problematic of the “person” of the animal, or the “animal in person.” This problematic cuts across the registers of narrative, genre, and ideology in literature, raising questions about narrative voice, conventions for focalization and characterization, and the ethical and political implications of personhood that is the basis for thinking about dependency and autonomy (Marran), property and self-possession (Bourdaghs), equality and freedom (Lamarre), and sovereignty (Long). As such, while the individual presentations situate and approach literary texts in very different ways, the common focus on the person of animal is intended to generate a new line of inquiry across Japanese literary texts, while testing its limits and possibilities.

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