By Susan McHugh
McHugh’s investigations into fictions of individuals hoping on animals in civic life—most evidently these of carrier animal clients and feminine expert horse riders—showcase particularly smooth and human–animal kinds of intersubjectivity. yet more and more photo violence directed at those figures shows their ambivalent importance to altering configurations of species.
Reading those advancements with narrative diversifications of conventional significant other species relatives in this interval— queer puppy memoirs and farm animal fictions—McHugh clarifies the intercorporeal intimacies—the perforations of species limitations now proliferating in genetic and genomic science—and embeds the illustration of animals inside of biopolitical frameworks.
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Additional resources for Animal Stories : Narrating across Species Lines
Pigs in particular gain peculiar cultural resonances as avatars of animal agency in a startlingly coherent narrative history of barnyard revolutions, and more recently as representative meat animals baring visual media devices. In the process, they also become living links between locally sustained agriculture and globalizing biotech communities stretched to their limits amid systems increasingly concerned with vertical coordination, consumer perceptions, and industry regulation. Amid these changing ﬁelds of power, pig stories come to embody creative potentials for collective life, enframing images akin to the processes that biologist Lynn Margulis terms “symbiogenesis” and Deleuze terms “heterogenesis,” even as their transgenic narratives ﬁgure the greatest threats to the futures of species life.
Theirs is a rare history, which at odd moments synthesizes critiques of rights-based politics that now seem the separate provenances of disability studies and animal studies. And it remains rooted in the kinds of intimacies that these human–canine pairs share—consistently referred to in guide-dog literature in terms of irreducible partnerships or “working units”—that not only prove difficult to model in story and image but also confound conventional notions of rights relationships as negotiated by and for individuals.
The problem unfolding here is not that the dairyman fails to modernize, that is, that his characteristic indirectness and reticence 22 Introduction relegate the rube, stupidly “soft” about animals, to a passing or past era. It is that others fail to appreciate how social senses and sensibilities are cultivated through animal practices. Lives are at stake in these scenes, as are whole ways of life. A century and a continent away, witnessing the family-run dairies of New England all but dying from industrial intensiﬁcation and relocation to other regions of the United States, I recognize a version of the shy shuffle that Bagnold describes in the young soldier through my interactions with elderly neighbors who are fast losing farms to suburban sprawl and the conﬁnement-operations driving down the price of milk.
Animal Stories : Narrating across Species Lines by Susan McHugh