Binding the Monstrous Animal in H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau and Larissa Lai's Salt Fish Girl
AuthorTurner, Cameron James
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In my thesis, I explore the nineteenth and twentieth century metaphorics and material inflections of the idea of the "enclosure" and the neo/colonial and zoological practices it engenders: the cage, the laboratory, the zoo, and the corporate compound. Critics have usually construed the enclosure as a reproducible space of control, imperial reification, epistemological certainty, and spectacle. Building on these valuable accounts and partially locating myself in contradistinction to them, Binding the Monstrous Animal argues that the enclosure is, at heart, a permeable membrane for both imperial subject-object and human-animal interactions. I draw on a diverse chorus of critical methodologies, including postcolonial identity theory, ecocriticism, gender studies, and close formal readings of H. G. Wells's 1896 novella The Island of Doctor Moreau, and Larissa Lai's 2002 novel Salt Fish Girl, to ultimately suggest that the neo/colonial enclosure--whether it constrains a human or nonhuman species--is a space always in danger of collapse. I read the enclosure as a site where gazes are exchanged, hierarchical and taxonomic identities are hybridized and destabilized, and new reproductions of suppressed identities are covertly accomplished, precipitating into representational crisis the lingering projects of empire and global capital.