Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Chandler, Anne

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role which animal narrators play in the it-narrative genre. This paper argues that the qualities of life and agency separate animal narrators from object narrators, making animal narrators especially capable of providing social critique thanks to animal narrators' naturally occupying a space between subject and object. This thesis marks the rising use of animal narrators and notes their narratological trends over a 62 period, showing the lingering influence of late-eighteenth-century models into mass-market periodicals of antebellum America and Victorian Britain. Chapters One and Two provides generic definitions and a brief consideration of animals in popular British culture and responds to key points of debate in the current it-narrative field by using Felissa or; The Life and Opinions of a Kitten of Sentiment (1811). Chapters Three and Four analyze related texts from before and after Felissa. Chapters Four and Five extend the discussion to shorter fiction in children's periodicals, taking the audience response to it-narratives into account. Highlighting the distinction between animal and non-animal narrators in these venues gives nuance to our understanding of the well-known "circulation" thematic in the it-narrative genre, while also calling attention to these narratives' less-studied but rigorous examinations of slavery, class difference, and colonialism.

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