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    STUDIA PHILOLOGIA - Ediţia nr.2 din 2022  
  Articol:   INTRODUCTION.

  Rezumat:  Available online: 30 June 2022; Available print: 30 June 2022
pp. 9-11



This special issue of Studia Philologia is devoted to the relationship between literary theory and animal studies. Both literary theory and animal studies are comparatively recent fields of inquiry: in the case of animal studies, the publication of Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation (1975) is often considered as the beginning of what has since grown into a dynamic multifaceted discipline while literary theory in the sense of a practice of systematic study of literature emerged in the 1950s as a result of the influence of structural linguistics on literary studies. Texts, some of which have since come to be regarded as literary and are now both studied by literary scholars and taught in literature courses, have nevertheless preoccupied themselves with animals and their relationships with humans for thousands of years: the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Aztec codices, medieval bestiaries, and the Bible all prominently feature animals in their respective narratives and imbue them with an array of symbolic meaning. Instances of writers engaging in thought processes that very much anticipate what we would now consider modern theorizing about non-human animals and their connection to humans can be readily found in writings pre-dating the twentieth century. One only has to think of Michel de Montaigne’s memorably facetious pondering over whether, from his pet cat’s perspective, the animal is the one actually in charge when he, as its owner, is playing with it, or Jeremy Bentham’s provocatively poignant query: “the question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?” Thinkers from across the full disciplinary spectrum have continued along this trajectory, working to complicate, challenge, and ultimately supersede traditional anthropocentric and anthropomorphic approaches to animals by finding alternatives to the hard binary and/or implicit hierarchy through which human-animal relations have often been conceptualised. Literary studies have been no exception and advances in animal studies have opened up new opportunities for literary studies scholars to apply and create theories and methodologies based on understanding the relationship between humans and non-human animals as a complex and constantly evolving multidirectional dynamic.
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