The Rhetorics of Nonhuman Morality, 1870 to 2010: Life, Beings, and World


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Literary Studies


This project concerns the twentieth and twenty-first century turn to moral consideration of the environment, animals, and pre-adult or pre-personal life (as children, fetuses, or human reproductive material). It undertakes a rhetorical and literary analysis of the languages in which radical reformers make moral appeals on behalf of previously unconsidered categories of beings. The rhetoric used in these three categories of reform activism (nature, animals, pre-persons) is compared across two distinct chronological episodes of ferment at the turn of the twentieth century (1870-1916) and the turn of the twenty-first (1970-2010). By studying the overlapping figures of thought and speech, this research excavates the shared philosophical underpinnings for movements usually studied separately.