Event—Center for Renaissance Studies

Paul Kelleher, Emory University

Where are the Animals in the History of Sexuality?

This paper argues that Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) offers a strange and surprising account of how the human subject is imagined and constructed. Numerous critics have suggested that Defoe’s novel plays an exemplary role in aiding and abetting the rise of the English subject, the masculinist subject, the capitalist subject, and/or the imperialist subject. Without disputing these critical positions, I read Robinson Crusoe as a deep—often opaque and disorienting—meditation on how subjectivity is shaped and reshaped through the interrelations between human and nonhuman animals. By revealing how the practices of animal husbandry are central to the novel’s obsession with the questions of “desire” and “mastery,” I invite us to consider a broader, more speculative question: where are the animals in the history of sexuality?

Learn more about the speaker: Paul Kelleher, Emory University.

Organized by Timothy Campbell, University of Chicago; Lisa A. Freeman, University of Illinois at Chicago; Richard Squibbs, DePaul University; and Helen Thompson, Northwestern University.

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.