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Animal Studies Journal

Abstract

Gillian Mears’ novel Foal’s Bread (2011) invites an examination of horses in fiction, opening a platform for exploring the horse in Australian literature from a zoocritical perspective. This paper argues that writing horses into stories involves addressing, indeed flouting the ‘sin’ of anthropomorphism. The problems and paradoxes of ascribing subjectivity to fictional equine characters are discussed. The death of the main equine character, Magpie, is framed as a site of disregard, an example of human disconnection from the lives and deaths of animals. Using excerpts from the award-wining novel, Foal’s Bread, as well as examples from other equine literature, the essay discusses representation of the horse as cultural subject and how writing fiction about animals opens possibilities for exploring relationships between humans and non-human animals.

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