Let’s try a thought experiment. Animal-rights philosopher Peter Singer or disability-studies scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson? Are you confused? What if they were both in a burning building and you could save only one of them? How about this one: animal rights or disability rights? You might wonder if those must be the only choices. Maren Tova Linett’s Literary Bioethics: Animality, Disability, and the Human wants us to choose both of them, but not necessarily Peter Singer’s version of animal rights. Singer is notorious for arguing that the lives of certain animals can have more value than certain humans with disabilities. Linett’s new book argues instead that we should value all forms of human and nonhuman life equally, including both humans with disabilities and nonhuman animals. According to Linett, literary texts can function as what she calls “bioethical” thought experiments, dramatizing both problematic and defensible ethical positions. Novels in particular can provide...
Literary Bioethics: Animality, Disability, and the Human by Maren Tova Linett
Michael Lundblad is professor of English language literature at the University of Oslo, Norway. He is the author of The Birth of a Jungle: Animality in Progressive-Era US Literature and Culture (2013), coeditor, with Marianne DeKoven, of Species Matters: Humane Advocacy and Cultural Theory (2012), editor of Animalities: Literary and Cultural Studies Beyond the Human (2017), editor of a special issue of New Literary History, “Animality/Posthumanism/Disability” (2020), and coeditor, with Gro Ween, of Control: Attempting to Tame the World (2022).
Michael Lundblad; Literary Bioethics: Animality, Disability, and the Human by Maren Tova Linett. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2023; 69 (1): 105–112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-10404965
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