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Sune Borkfelt

Sensing Slaughter: exploring the sounds and smells of nonhuman literary encounters

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In literary analysis as in real life, the visual holds a privileged position as the experience most often intellectualized and/or aestheticized. However, increased analytical focus on the phenomena of sound and smell often open up new perspectives on the experiences of literary characters and on the nature of experience as such. This is especially compelling in the case of texts in which humans encounter nonhumans (and vice versa). Through a focus on encounters with animal markets and slaughterhouses in texts from the nineteenth century onwards, this paper attempts to theorize the literary experience of the sounds and smells of nonhuman animals. Hence, it is argued that a heightened focus on other senses than the visual opens up different potential and allows for reading experiences that are perhaps more emotive and intuitive, rather than rationalized, and which can highlight nonhuman agency. In particular, reading scenes of slaughter through the senses in this way may lead to a heightened awareness of the distance or proximity of slaughter in readers’ lives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal Encounters : Kontakt, Interaktion und Relationalität
EditorsAlexandra Böhm, Jessica Ullrich
Place of publicationStuttgart
PublisherVerlag J. B. Metzler
Publication year2019
Pages225-240
ISBN (print)9783476049384
ISBN (Electronic)9783476049391
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesCultural Animal Studies
Volume4
ISSN2662-1835

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