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Hunting for the Sublime in Steven Rinella’s Memoirs and Still Lifes

  • Lombard, David André; 141790;
Publication Date
Apr 19, 2023
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This essay explores the avenues opened and limits set by the sublime when used a rhetorical and narratological strategy for figuring and describing non-human animals in the memoir, an understudied but promising genre for examining human/nonhuman relationships. Since few (if any) recent theories of the sublime provide a viable revision of the fraught aesthetic distinction between sublime and beautiful animals and/or between humans and animals outlined in foundational works on the sublime (e.g., Burke’s and Kant’s texts), this article analyzes two case studies (Steven Rinella’s American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon [2008] and Meat Eater: Adventures from the Life of an American Hunter [2012]) that imaginatively deploy the rhetoric of the sublime in descriptions of living animals and dead animals. In Rinella’s memoirs, the described dead animals become still lifes which produce reflections on the ethics of hunting, on animal welfare, and on the tensions existing in the relationship between human and non-human animals. / status: published

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