Utopian Animals

full name / name of organization: 
Keridiana Chez
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In H.G. Wells's A Modern Utopia (1905), the narrator holds a remarkable conversation between the narrator and a dog-loving botanist who declares that the stated purposes of purging contagious diseases would never, for him, justify the mass extermination of pet dogs. The botanist staunchly concludes, "I do not like your utopia, if there are to be no dogs."

As evidenced by the March 2009 PMLA's special section and the October 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education's coverage on the emerging field of animal studies, the question of the animal has risen to mainstream prominence as scholars increasingly heed Claude Levi-Strauss' advice to think with the animal. I am putting together a panel exploring the figure of the animal in English and American utopian literature for the 2010 Society for Utopian Studies Annual Meeting (http://www.utoronto.ca/utopia/meetings.html) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 28-31, 2010. What function do non-human animals play in these imagined communities? How do animal metaphors serve to establish—or unravel—a utopia? What do utopian texts teach us about human-animal relationships?

Any papers in any time period relating to animals in English and American utopian literature will be most welcome, with special preference for 19th- and 20th-century texts. Please send a 300-word abstract and a brief bio to kerychez@gmail.com by May 1, 2010.