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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Swine : the animal industrial complex, resistance through storytelling, and the question of the animal in novel form MacKenzie-Dale, Brittni


In this thesis, I work at the intersections of Creative Writing, Critical Animal Studies (CAS), and ecofeminism in order to explore North American carnist culture and human exceptionalist discourse through fiction. Ultimately, I contend that the animal industrial complex relies on exploitative ideologies, and that fiction can be a radical act of resistance to such oppression, and, thus, contribute to a social justice that sees the liberation of other animals as a focal point. As part of this argument, I argue that gothic fiction has the ability to reflect upon a cultural, socio-political moment by exploring an imagined future, alternate reality, or hyperbolized temporal fear to problematize, destabilize, and resist restrictive understandings of social norms such as arbitrary speciesist notions and the porous ontological divide between “human” and nonhuman animals. Rooted in a historical tradition of radical writers and thinkers, the gothic aesthetic speaks to sociopolitical and ethical anxieties; as such, I suggest that gothic fiction might be the best place in which to visit moral quandaries that effect all life on earth. Methodologically, I rely in part on Anne William’s understanding of the Female Gothic plot in my creation of Swine, but take this further, suggesting that an ecofeminist Gothic is the best way to resist the animal industrial complex by telling a different story about our relationship to “farm” animals. My novel Swine is the culmination of my argument against the animal industrial complex, “rational” modes of knowing, and carnism itself. Rather than treating the critical and the creative as binary approaches to the animal industrial complex, I see them as existing on a spectrum or continuum, all the while insisting that fiction can be an ethical response to violence.

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