wrote of lions, shrews, horned toads, curs, mastiffs, and hellhounds.
But the word “animal” itself only appears very
his work, which was in keeping with sixteenth-century usage.
Accommodated Animal, the
modern human / animal divide first came
strongly into play in the seventeenth century, with
formulation that reason sets humans above other species: “I
therefore I am.”
animals could claim a firmer place alongside humans in a larger vision
of belonging, or what she terms cosmopolity.
Shakespeare as her
touchstone, Shannon explores the creaturely dispensation that existed
until Descartes. She finds that early modern writers used classical
natural history and readings of Genesis to credit animals with various
kinds of stakeholdership, prerogative, and entitlement, employing the
language of politics in a constitutional vision of cosmic membership.
Using this political idiom to frame cross-species relations, Shannon
argues, carried with it the notion that animals possess their own
investments in the world, a point distinct from the question of whether
animals have reason. It also enabled a sharp critique of the tyranny of
By answering “the question of the animal”
Accommodated Animal makes a
brilliant contribution to
cross-disciplinary debates engaging animal studies, political theory,
intellectual history, and literary studies.
The Accommodated Animal
by Laurie Shannon
University Of Chicago Press, 2012