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Moby-Dick and Compassion

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image of Society & Animals

Because the notions of "anthropomorphism" and "sentimentality" often are used pejoratively to dismiss research in human-animal studies, there is much to be gained from ongoing and detailed analysis of the changing "structures of feeling" that shape representations and treatments of nonhuman animals. Literary criticism contributes to this project when it pays due attention to differences in historical and cultural contexts. As an example of this approach, a reading of the humanization of cetaceans in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick - and more broadly in nineteenth-century whaling discourse - demonstrates how radically human feelings for nonhuman species are affected by shifting material and ideological conditions.

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/content/journals/10.1163/156853004323029522
2004-03-01
2016-12-09

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