Colleen Glenney Boggs puts animal representation at the center of the making of the liberal American subject. Concentrating on the formative and disruptive presence of animals in the writings of Frederick Douglass, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson, Boggs argues that animals are critical to the ways in which Americans enact their humanity and regulate subjects in the biopolitical state. Biopower, or a politics that extends its reach to life, thrives on the strategic ambivalence between who is considered human and what is judged as animal. It generates a space of indeterminacy in which animal representations intervene to define and challenge the parameters of subjectivity. The renegotiation of the species line produces a tension that is never fully regulated. Therefore, as both figures of radical alterity and the embodiment of biopolitics, animals are simultaneously exceptional and exemplary to the biopolitical state. An original contribution to animal studies, American studies, critical race theory, and posthumanist inquiry, Boggs thrillingly reinterprets a long and highly contentious human-animal history.
Colleen Glenney Boggs is associate professor of English and women's and gender studies at Dartmouth College and the author of Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation, 1773-1892.