Elizabeth Young

Join us on Thursday, February 27 at 7:00pm for a book talk and signing with Elizabeth Young, Carl M. and Elsie A. Small Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College and author of Pet Projects: Animal Fiction and Taxidermy in the Nineteenth-Century Archive.

This event is co-sponsored by the Mount Holyoke College English department. It is free and open to the public.

About the Book

In Pet Projects, Elizabeth Young joins an analysis of the representation of animals in nineteenth-century fiction, taxidermy, and the visual arts with a first-person reflection on her own scholarly journey. Centering on Margaret Marshall Saunders, a Canadian woman writer once famous for her animal novels, and incorporating Young's own experience of a beloved animal's illness, this study highlights the personal and intellectual stakes of a "pet project" of cultural criticism.

Young assembles a broad archive of materials, beginning with Saunders's novels and widening outward to include fiction, nonfiction, photography, and taxidermy. She coins the term "first-dog voice" to describe the narrative technique of novels, such as Saunders's Beautiful Joe, written in the first person from the perspective of an animal. She connects this voice to contemporary political issues, revealing how animal fiction such as Saunders's reanimates nineteenth-century writing about both feminism and slavery. Highlighting the prominence of taxidermy in the late nineteenth century, she suggests that Saunders transforms taxidermic techniques in surprising ways that provide new forms of authority for women. Young adapts Freud to analyze literary representations of mourning by and for animals, and she examines how Canadian writers, including Saunders, use animals to explore race, ethnicity, and national identity. Her wide-ranging investigation incorporates twenty-first as well as nineteenth-century works of literature and culture, including recent art using taxidermy and contemporary film. Throughout, she reflects on the tools she uses to craft her analyses, examining the state of scholarly fields from feminist criticism to animal studies.

With a lively, first-person voice that highlights experiences usually concealed in academic studies by scholarly discourse--such as detours, zigzags, roadblocks, and personal experience--this unique and innovative book will delight animal enthusiasts and academics in the fields of animal studies, gender studies, American studies, and Canadian studies.

About the Author

Elizabeth Young is Carl M. and Elsie A. Small Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Black Frankenstein: The Making of an American Metaphor and Disarming the Nation: Women's Writing and the American Civil War.


This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please click here.

Get Your Copy

Books will be available to purchase at the event, but if you would like to reserve a copy ahead of time, you may do so below.

Event date: 
Thursday, February 27, 2020 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Odyssey Bookshop
9 College Street
South Hadley, MA 01075
Pet Projects: Animal Fiction and Taxidermy in the Nineteenth-Century Archive (Animalibus #14) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780271084947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penn State University Press - December 15th, 2019

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