Threatening predators and pernicious beasts continue to play significant roles in the human imaginary even as human threats to other species increase exponentially in the age of Anthropocene. While posthumanist animal studies and material ecocriticism sync human and other animals within the biosphere’s living interactions, our shared material reciprocity is currently skewing ever more towards the human threat to other species – and so to ourselves as co-dependents. This essay explores the meaning of “threatening” and “threatened”. Five German texts presenting human-animal interactions in the Anthropocene’s span by Goethe, Kafka, Stifter, Duve, and Trojanow unsettle expectations of threats. In Goethe’s “Novella”, an escaped lion and tiger enter German forests and are subdued, whereas Stifter’s “Brigitta” depicts a pastoral peace threatened by wolves. Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” re-shapes David Abram’s idea of “becoming animal”, and Karen Duve’s “Rain Novel” and Ilija Trojanow’s “Melting Ice”, recent climate change novels, juxtapose the human threat to the world’s climate with the onslaught of endless slugs and a biting penguin. Finally, the resurgence of wild boars in Berlin’s urban space in the past few years renegotiates human, nonhuman, and posthuman boundaries in an urban ecology.
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
Sullivan, H. I. (2016). Threatening animals? Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, 4, 39-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.7358/rela-2016-001-sull
Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism