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Reading the Animal Pulse

  • Ben De BruynEmail author
Chapter
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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)

Abstract

This chapter examines literary texts that deal with one of the many media that function as an interface between humans and other animals: the stethoscope. I first recapitulate existing work about this medical monitoring device in sound studies and literary studies and about creaturely vulnerability in animal studies, and explain how bodily sounds disclose a form of cross-species fragility left unexplored by other accounts of nonhuman audio. The chapter subsequently shows how two novels featuring specialized knowledge of veterinary procedures hint at the common vulnerability of embodied creatures while leaving the conventional species boundary largely in place. A brief look at the historical archive reveals that Bram Stoker’s Dracula monitors this boundary even more anxiously and encourages its readers to experience its sensational narrative in quasi-physical ways, as if trying to animalize their bodies in ways that nevertheless reassure the novel’s audience. By contrast, Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing and Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis offer less reassuring interpretations of our weird bodies, their creaturely sounds, and the indifferent material universe that envelops us.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for the Study of Civilisations, Arts, and Letters (INCAL)UCLouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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