Veganizing the Great Works—the “Classics”—of Literature

While subjection to speciesism may be required by physical and political forces in the real world, no such necessity holds in imaginary worlds.  The author, editor, and publisher of a story, a play, a novel, a poem, a song, a movie script, a video game, or some other piece of literature wield plenary power over the manufactured universe in which that piece is set.  If we want readers and viewers to escape from speciesism, even just for a little while and even just in their imaginations, we can enable that escape by keeping speciesism and animal exploitation out of literature altogether.  This end can be achieved both (i) by writing new works that are, from the outset, free from anthropocentric and speciesist content and (ii) by editing existing works to meet that criterion.

Book Review | Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice

In Sister Species: Women, Animals, and Social Justice editor Lisa Kemmerer brings together essays by 14 women who work as animal advocates.  Carol J. Adams contributed the foreword to the book, addressing the importance of bringing together these women’s stories as a way for the reader to discover their own stories of awareness and engagement. In the field of biology, “sister species” refers to pairs of species in which each is the other’s closest relative. 

A Christmas Carol (Dickens) | Fantasy Literature for Activists #3

The present article marks the third installment of the “Mythology and Fantasy Literature for Activists” series.  The story of A Christmas Carol has been presented, re-made, copied, and imitated in so many forms that it and its progeny serve as perennial landmarks of the modern Christmas tradition.  The essential event and theme Dickens permanently installed into this tradition—personal transformation and redemption as a result of new insight—has many features to which vegans can relate, and revisiting this story can serve to prompt reflections on and new insights regarding one’s life choices for modern activists just as it has for several generations of other readers and viewers over the last 150 years.

Vegan Literary Theory and Criticism: Toward a “Literature of Their Own”

This article briefly proposes an initial framework for articulating and formalizing a literary theory informed by the values of veganism and ahimsa and for applying that theory through literary criticism of individual works of literature. “Literature” here is broadly construed so as to include fiction and non-fiction written and spoken material as well as works in the fine and performing arts and in all expressive media, from painting and sculpture to audio and video recordings to video games and computer-generated simulations.

Mythology and Fantasy Literature for Activists #2: Watership Down

The first installment of this “Mythology and Fantasy Literature for Activists” series sought to introduce the potential value of mythology and fantasy literature for activists. Examining such literature may yield insights that reading history alone may not readily provide, particularly when one faces a challenge that, as far as the historical record goes, has never been overcome. Since animal emancipationists face just such a challenge, this potential value is, in the present author’s view, worth exploring. The previous article provided an example of a possible gleaning from Tolkien’s mythology-rich universe in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are set. The present article continues to explore fantasy and mythology as a source of insights and inspiration for activists by means of another example.

Mythology and Fantasy Literature

Mythology and Fantasy Literature: A Role in Activism

In seeking to abolish the property status of other animals, animal rights activists are pursuing a hitherto unattained goal: no human culture, at least to the author’s knowledge, has ever achieved animal emancipation and personhood. In short, modern abolitionists can rely upon no roadmap drawn by “someone who’s been there.” But analogy and vicarious experience can help serve at least some of the functions of a roadmap. The present article begins to explore fantasy and mythology and the types of teachings one might take from fictional worlds and tales.