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The Birth of a JungleAnimality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 July 2021

Archaeology of a Humane Society

Archaeology of a Humane Society

Animality, Savagery, Blackness

(p.121) 5 Archaeology of a Humane Society
The Birth of a Jungle

Michael Lundblad

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the problematic relationship between animality and U.S. race relations at the turn of the twentieth century. Engaging the work of critics and theorists such as Jacqueline Goldsby, Gail Bederman, and Marianna Torgovnick, the chapter highlights the significance of the “humane” movement for both animals and criminals in relation to shifting constructions of black and white identities. At the end of the nineteenth century, a new logic of humane reform contributed to a rewriting of black male identity as more “savage” than “animal.” At a moment when black men were attempting to distance themselves from racist constructions of their animality, humane reform worked to contrast whiteness with the “savagery” of blackness. William James’s work on antilynching and antivivisection advocacy reveals how white men could claim the capacity for humane behavior as a marker of racial difference. As a result, animality is essentially “elevated” over blackness, enabling white men to torture and vivisect black men, thus treating them worse than animals, at the turn of the century.

Keywords:   animality, savagery, blackness, beast, jungle, animal, lynching, humane movement, vivisection, William James

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