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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

As an acute observer and critic of his age, Dickens reproduces in his writing the ubiquity of animals in the everyday lives of Victorians as raw material, labour, transport, food, clothing, entertainment, companionship, and objects of scientific knowledge. Over the past four decades, animal studies scholars have begun to think seriously about such questions as the permeability of the human/animal distinction, non-human agency, interspecies structures of feeling, the function of zoological language, and the materiality of animal lives in relation to situated knowledges and practices. Central to this project has been the ethical imperative of how we might think about animals as animals rather than simply as symbols or metaphors to explain human concerns. This chapter assesses Dickens’s representation of animals in the context of scholarship in both Victorian and human–animal studies, with a view to how such questions might initiate new lines of enquiry for future work in Dickens studies.

Keywords: Charles Dickens, Victorian literature, animal studies, human and animal studies, fiction, Victorian natural history, anthropocentrism

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