Into the Woods: The Creaturely and the Queer in 20th Century US American Hunting Narratives

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Contribution to a Book

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Second Language Learning and Teaching



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This chapter analyzes intertextual representations of white American masculinity and its human and nonhuman others as they arise across a referential chain of three 20th Century hunting novels: William Faulkner’s Go Down Moses (1942), Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967), and James Dickey’s Deliverance (1970). The chapter locates these texts within two historical, political, and conservationist contexts: first, the emergence of federal wilderness enclosure programs and white men’s outdoors and eugenics organizations in the 1910s–40s, and second, within the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the social and environmental movements of the 1960s. Throughout my analysis of textual representations of hunting, racialized and colonial inhumanity, and nonhuman animality in these texts. I develop a queer ecological and critical race theory of “the creaturely.” This theory responds to work from Alex Weheliye, Sarah Ensor, and Donna Haraway, and articulates the posture of environmental attunement, interspecies identification, and interracial alliance that emerges in these texts among queer, racialized, and colonized humans and the nonhuman animals and ecologies that make life under the shadow of ritualized violence.