Publication Details

Griffiths, M. R. (2008). Caveats for the posthuman past. The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 49 1-6.


If animal studies grew largely out of late twentieth-century concerns, then equally, scholarly address towards the prehistory of the posthuman considerations underlying this subdiscipline is an absolute necessity, and one beset by many challenges. The critical topos of the more radical developments in this field poses a unique challenge to scholars of earlier periods. A number of publications on the animal question in the eighteenth century have begun to bring into relief the indispensable genealogy of enlightenment humanism which finds its emergence in the eighteenth century, especially for British culture. At the latter end of the long eighteenth century--Romanticism and its precedents particularly--animal studies is already taken seriously: David Perkins's recent Romanticism and Animal Rights comes to mind. Here I would like not only to address Frank Palmeri's important and useful collection, Humans and Other Animals in Eighteenth-Century British Culture: Representation, Hybridity, Ethics (Ashgate, 2006), but also to put this edited volume into dialogue with broader methodological and disciplinary challenges which (should) preoccupy all critics interested in taking seriously the study of nonhuman animals in the eighteenth century.