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Representing The Experimental Animal: Competing Voices In Victorian Culture

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Chapter Summary

In the heated vivisection debates of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the experimental animal refused to stay confined to the laboratory, as representations of the nonhuman proliferated in mainstream and specialist publications, in testimonies and speeches, as well as in the pamphlets, placards, and leaflets generated by antivivisectionists and their opponents. Despite the risks involved, however, antivivisectionist publications continued printing accounts of physiological research along with sentimental representations of animals. Such bifurcated representations made visible the various constructions which could be placed upon the animal in late-Victorian culture. The hazards of using animal testimony in this legal context serve as a striking illustration of varied responses to animal voices in antivivisection literature. Making a shared human-animal environment tolerable to those sensitive to the sounds of animal suffering requires the reproduction of these sounds as testimony.

Keywords: animal suffering; animal voices; antivivisectionists; experimental animal; Victorian culture



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