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Tracking the Real Thing: Representation, Relationship, and Masculinity in the Animal Stories of Euro-Canadian Men



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Animal stories by Euro-Canadian men have had a disproportionate influence on the development of the mode, and engage with representations of animals from within the dominant androcentric, anthropocentric discourse of Western cultures. Dominant representations influence public and personal opinions, and these in turn influence both personal actions and governmental policy, which affect wild and domestic animals on individual as well as systemic levels. Animal stories by Euro-Canadian men work within preconceived conceptualizations of animals, as informed by the work of prominent Europeans such as René Descartes and Charles Darwin, and either reinforce those conceptualizations or work against the predominant Western understanding of animals, and can have lasting effects on both cultural and environmental landscapes. Analyses of the primary texts problematize definition and categorization, and identify common themes and narrative strategies in texts’ representations of animals and human-animal relationships. The eleven stories examined here use expressions of Western masculinity and femininity as a means of creating identification with their protagonist species. These stories support hegemonic masculinity and prototypically masculine values such as virility and dominance, values that reinforce gendered stereotypes and male dominance in Western culture and that Other femininity and non-binary identities. These stories support hegemonic masculinity that perpetuates prototypically masculine values such as virility and dominance that reinforce gendered stereotypes and male dominance in Western cultures and Others femininity and non-binary identities. In large part, these stories perpetuate the status quo and naturalize cultural understandings of masculinity and femininity as biologically based, and in so doing promote emotional bonding through suggestions of shared cultural experience. Stories have the power to change perceptions of entire species, and even to alter human behaviour toward nonhuman animals on a cultural level. Canadian animal stories as a mode have received little critical attention, and future research into this area may provide insights into authors’ contributions to Canadian literature, women and minority writers’ responses to the hegemonic discourse, and the influence of animal representation on readers.



animals, animal stories, Canadian literature, nature fakers, conservation, animal representation, animal studies, literary animal studies



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)






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