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Bestiary: An Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Researchers in animal studies examine the cultural, philosophical, economic and social means by which humans and animals interact. The very idea of the human is closely tied up with ideas about animals. This is the introductory chapter of the book, which is a kind of mixed human-animal habitat into which diverse species have been introduced, to intermingle and interbreed, appropriately or not. The essays collected here track the cultural organisms that result, whose flesh is (at least partly) conceptual and textual: paper tigers, beast fables, anthropomorphs, humanimals, l’animot. During the heyday of modernity, Anthropomorphism finding human qualities in nonhuman beings became an epistemological vice, a symptom of knowing animals mistakenly. The whole bestiary of new taxonomies is provided in the book. The essays consider the benefits (and not only for humans) of attempting to know animals differently: more closely, less defenitively, more carefully, less certainly.

Keywords: animal studies; anthropomorphism; bestiary; human-animal habitat; humanimals; taxonomy



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