Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects examines
what happens when we cease to assume that only humans exert agency.
Through a careful examination of medieval, early modern and contemporary
lifeworlds, these essays collectively argue against ecological
anthropocentricity. Sheep, wolves, camels, flowers, chairs, magnets,
landscapes, refuse and gems are more than mere objects. They act; they
withdraw; they make demands; they connect within lively networks that
might foster a new humanism, or that might proceed with indifference
towards human affairs. Through what ethics do we respond to these
activities and forces? To what futures do these creatures and objects
invite us, especially when they appear within the texts and cultures of
the “distant” past?
Contents: Jeffrey J. Cohen (George Washington University): “Introduction: All Things” – Karl Steel (Brooklyn College): “With the World, or Bound to Face the Sky: The Postures of the Wolf-Child of Hesse” – Sharon Kinoshita (University of California, Santa Cruz): “Animals and the Medieval Culture of Empire” – Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan): “The Floral and the Human” – Kellie Robertson (University of Wisconsin-Madison): “Exemplary Rocks” – Valerie Allen (John Jay College of Criminal Justice): “Mineral Virtue” – Eileen Joy (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville): “You Are Here: A Manifesto” – Julian Yates (University of Delaware): “Sheep Tracks: Multi-Species Impressions” – Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine): “The Renaissance Res Publica of Things” – Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University):“Powers of the Hoard: Further Notes on Material Agency”
Response essays: Lowell Duckert, “Speaking Stones, John Muir, and a Slower (Non)humanities” – Nedda Mehdizadeh, “‘Ruinous Monument’: Transporting Objects in Herbert’s Persepolis” – Jonathan Gil Harris,“Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Twenty Questions”
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen is Professor of English and Director of the Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI) at the George Washington University.
His research explores what monsters promise; how postcolonial studies,
queer theory, postmodernism and posthumanism might help us to better
understand the literatures and cultures of the Middle Ages (and might be
transformed by that encounter); the limits and the creativity of our
taxonomic impulses; the complexities of time when thought outside of
progress narratives; and ecotheory. He is the author of three books: Of Giants: Sex, Monsters and the Middle Ages; Medieval Identity Machines; and Hybridity, Identity and Monstrosity in Medieval Britain: On Difficult Middles and the editor of four more. He blogs at In the Middle.
book is available as a free, open access download. Even if you read the
volume electronically, please consider purchasing a copy of the
paperback ($17) to support future Oliphaunt / punctum projects.