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The Vulnerable Animals That Therefore We Are: (Non-)Human Animals in D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Central to animal studies is the question of words and how they are used in relation to wordless beings such as non-human animals. This issue is addressed by the writer D.H. Lawrence, and the focus of this thesis is the linguistic vulnerability of humans and non-humans in his novel Women in Love, a subject that will be explored with the help of the philosopher Jacques Derrida’s text The Animal That Therefore I Am. The argument is that Women in Love illustrates the human subjection to and constitution in language, which both enables human thinking and restricts the human ability to think without words. This linguistic vulnerability causes a similar vulnerability in non-human animals in two ways. First, humans tend to imagine others, including non-verbal animals, through words, a medium they exist outside of and therefore cannot be defined through. Second, humans are often unperceptive of non-linguistic means of expression and they therefore do not discern what non-human animals may be trying to communicate to them, which often enables humans to justify abuse against non-humans. In addition, the novel shows how this shared but unequal vulnerability can sometimes be dissolved through the likewise shared but equal physical vulnerability of all animals if a human is able to imagine the experiences of a non-human animal through their shared embodiment rather than through human language. Hence the essay shows the importance of recognizing the limitations of language and of being aware of how the symbolizing effect of words influences the human treatment of its others.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 62 p.
Keyword [en]
D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love, animals, non-human animals, animal studies, animals in literature, Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, logocentrism, vulnerability, language, words, posthumanism
National Category
General Literature Studies Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-131606OAI: diva2:941283
2016-06-03, Södra huset, E890, Stockholm, 14:30 (English)
Available from: 2016-06-22 Created: 2016-06-22 Last updated: 2016-06-22Bibliographically approved

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