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Title:Feeling Animal: Pet-Making and Mastery in the Slave’s Friend
Author(s):Keralis, Spencer D.C.
American literature
Eliza Lee Cabot Follen
children's literature
American poetry
The Slave's Friend
animal studies
Geographic Coverage:United States
Abstract:Animal imagery is ubiquitous in abolitionist writing, in general, but is particularly prevalent in texts marketed to children. Abolitionists, who drew a moral equivalency between the torture of animals and the abuse of slaves by their masters, also used animal metaphors in describing slaves. Slave children in particular were described using animal metaphors, and both domesticated pets and wild animals often appeared as allegorical figures in abolitionist literature, representing slaves and free blacks. These allegorical animals were deployed in an attempt to create sympathy for the enslaved, suggesting that the feelings produced by witnessing representations of animal suffering, and from observing animals’ behavior toward humans, could stimulate sympathies that would lead to abolitionist sentiment. This practice exploited a continuum of anti-cruelty thought that, while creating sympathetic identification with both the suffering slave and the suffering animal, dehumanized slaves by placing them metaphorically in the same status as animals. Allegories of pet-making in abolitionist writing provided white children with a model for negotiating their relationship with free blacks and for asserting their class-entitled mastery in general.
Issue Date:2012
Publisher:The Ohio State University Press
Citation Info:Keralis, Spencer D.C. "Feeling Animal: Pet-Making and Mastery in the Slave's Friend." American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography, Volume 22, Number 2, 2012, pp. 121-138.
Sponsor:Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia
Legacy Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-05

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