Animal Studies: Kafka's Animal Stories

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Kafka has not tended to feature in accounts of the ecocritical canon. However, there are two important grounds for examining his animal stories in this volume. On the one hand, they introduced radical innovations in the use of animals as literary symbols. And on the other, they have inspired thinkers and writers since the 1970s with their destabilisation of accepted notions of human distinctiveness from non-human animals. Kafka challenged the common understanding of human identity by foregrounding our animality and drawing attention to the agency of animals. The chapter first traces the emergence of Animal Studies as a dynamic trend in contemporary cultural studies, before examining the stories “Metamorphosis” and “A Report to an Academy” as examples of Kafka’s zoopoetics and zoontology respectively. It concludes by reflecting on the contribution of literary animal writing to cultural ecology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Ecocriticism and Cultural Ecology
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9783110308372
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2016

Publication series

NameHandbook of English and American Studies


  • Animal Studies; Kafka; zoopoetics; zoontology; anthropomorphism


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