This essay examines the ways in which cockfighting in early modern England operates as an allegorical mode, as a trope for conscribing social relations and phenomena as distinct as male subject-formation and the realization of eschatological truth. Focusing on two distinct cockfighting texts (one that promotes the virtues of cockfighting as a sport and another that figures cockfighting as an extension of animal husbandry), the essay maps the range of cultural and behavioral practices that early modern cockfighting discourse makes possible. Located in allegories of the cockfight are conflicting systems of meaning that at once affirm and disrupt anthropological distinctions between human and animal activity and the anthropocentric ideologies that construct such demarcations. Reading the early modern cockfight challenges us to critique how we engage sport, early modern culture, animals, and allegory itself as signifying texts.

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