Stray: Human–Animal Ethics in the Anthropocene (eBook)
By Barbara Creed
In The Winter’s Tale (1623) Shakespeare speaks of the kindness of animals who took in and nursed the ‘poor babe’, the abandoned human stray. In the Anthropocene all species are threatened with loss of a hearth, home, nest, forest, burrow, water, wilderness, plot of ground, a place where living things can settle and flourish—that essential thing the human species once used in order to define itself as ‘human’ and ‘civilised’. The ‘poor babe’ of the twenty-first century will need more than the kindness of others. Not only are the members of all species threatened with the loss of a home or habitat, the earth herself is at risk.
This timely polemic explores the relationship between human and animal in the context of the stray. Working through examples from the visual arts, film and literature, with reference to prominent writers and philosophers, Creed introduces the concept of the anthropogenic stray and in so doing lays bare the astonishing contradictions at the heart of our current condition. The ‘stray ethics’ argued for here, relating both to nonhuman animals and human beings such as refugees and the homeless, asks us to abandon our belief in human exceptionalism and see the world and its multispecies as interconnected, laced within what Charles Darwin understood to be ‘the inextricable web of affinities.
Barbara Creed’s Stray: Human–Animal Ethics in the Anthropocene is the second title for Power Polemics, a series that puts art hard up against political and personal viewpoints from some of the leading thinkers and writers in the field today.
About the author
Barbara Creed is a Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor at the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Professorial Fellow. She is the author of five books on feminism, sexuality, film and media including: the feminist classic, The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (Routledge); Media Matrix: Sexing the New Reality (Allen & Unwin), Phallic Panic: Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny and Darwin’s Screens: Evolutionary Aesthetics, Time and Sexual Display in the Cinema (both MUP).
Creed’s recent research is on animal studies, the inhuman and social justice issues; her articles have appeared in international collections and journals and have been translated into a range of foreign languages. She is presently on the editorial advisory boards of Cultural Studies Review, eTropic and the Animal Studies Journal and on the boards of the international book series, Anthem and Animal Publics. In 2006 She was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities and is currently the director of the Human Rights and Animal Ethics Research Network (HRAE) at the University of Melbourne.
This exploration uses many of the cultural artefacts with which Creed has worked for so many years, including film, plays, novels, visual art, letters and much more. All this is combined with academic scholarship, critical analysis, and original theoretical thought. The book is neatly presented and features forty colour images. Stray is divided into two sections: ‘Part I: Animals and Human Stray’ and ‘Part II: Ethics in the Anthropocene’. Each part is again broken up into short chapters, allowing Creed to range across a wide variety of topics and interests ... Stray is a testament to Barbara Creed’s intellectual prowess. But it is also emblematic of the rapidly maturing status of the field of Animal Studies, also known as Human Animal Studies. Completely unheard of twenty years ago, and very much on the outer margins of academia just ten years ago, Creed’s thoughtful contribution to the animal debate demonstrates, once again, that Animal Studies has arrived as a discipline. Scholars of the highest standing now include the lives of nonhuman animals within the scope of their theorisation.
—Siobhan O'Sullivan, reviewed in Animal Studies Journal
40 colour images