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Title page for ETD etd-07022013-113128

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Hovanec, Caroline Louise
Author's Email Address caroline.hovanec@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07022013-113128
Title Zoological Modernism: Literature, Science, and Animals in Early Twentieth-Century Britain
Degree PhD
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jay Clayton Committee Co-Chair
Mark Wollaeger Committee Co-Chair
Kelly Oliver Committee Member
Rachel Teukolsky Committee Member
  • ecology
  • ethology
  • science studies
  • animal psychology
Date of Defense 2013-05-21
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation examines the relationship between literature and zoology in early twentieth-century Britain, arguing that modernist literature’s representations of animals drew on and revised zoological understandings of animals and vice versa. Recovering a network of “zoological modernists”—writers, biologists, and filmmakers who knew and read each other—this dissertation reveals the biographical and textual points of intersection between such figures as H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Julian Huxley, J.B.S. Haldane, Charles Elton, and the creators of the Secrets of Nature film series. Against the dominant critical understanding of modernism’s animal representations as symbols of human pre-history or the Freudian unconscious, I suggest that at least one strand of modernist writers found real, material animals, the kind studied by zoologists, aesthetically and intellectually compelling. Meanwhile zoologists, challenged by modernism’s destabilization of realism and representation, developed in their texts self-conscious, modernist strategies for writing about animals.
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