Literary Animal Studies in 2012: Where We Are, Where We Are Going

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Literary Animal Studies began, as did most of the disciplines that contribute to Animal Studies and Human–Animal Studies, in the 1980s. That era of raised social-consciousness opened academic disciplines to many new perspectives. The unique contribution Animal Studies made was to suggest that other-than-human perspectives not only existed but could expand and enhance human consciousness beyond what since the Middle Ages had been believed to be the impermeable boundary between human and animal. Increased knowledge and awareness of nonhuman possibility came and continues to come from virtually every existing academic discipline. What Literary Animal Studies contributes to the mix is the news that the arts, their roots in humans' earliest response to the world and those they shared it with, still retain the power to rekindle that deep time when the boundary between human and animal was permeable, when humans knew they were one among many other animals, and anthropocentrism had not yet emerged to deny that kinship.
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