Carnivorous Virility: Becoming Dog in Pre- & Post-Modernity

Carla Frecerro
Feb 1, 2011 | 6:30pm
James Room
4th Floor Barnard Hall

Carnivorous Virility lecture image

In this lecture, Professor Freccero argues for a queering of temporality that would undo our nationally circumscribed and periodized fields of literary study in order to work through figures that haunt texts across historical eras. Her case study involves cynanthropy, the merger of human man and dog; it takes as its starting point the Columbian New World encounter, from reports of dog-headed cannibals to accounts of the devouring dog as the ubiquitous weapon of Spanish colonizers; and concludes with the attack on Diane Whipple by two Presa Canarios in San Francisco in 2001. This figure of carnivorous virility condenses in itself a whole series of New and Old World meanings, from companion to cannibal, primitive savage to savagely civilizational. Professor Freccero identifies the usefulness of alternative temporalities for understanding the historical and affective work such figures do and for the necessity of imagining agency, subjectivity, and social collectivity differently to account for such trans-species becomings.

Carla Freccero is professor of Literature, Feminist Studies, and History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, where she has taught since 1991. Trained in continental Renaissance Studies, she is the author of Father Figures: Genealogy and Narrative Structure in Rabelais; Popular Culture: An Introduction; and Queer/Early/ Modern, in addition to essays on early modern and postmodern literature and culture, feminist and queer theory and criticism, psychoanalysis and animal studies. She is coeditor, with Aranye Fradenburg, of Premodern Sexualities, and currently at work on a book about human and non-human animal being titled Animate Figures.

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