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Blackwell Publishes Four-Volume Edition of British 'It-Narratives'
Mark Blackwell, professor of English and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, has just published a four-volume edition of object and animal tales first issued in England in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The collection, entitled British It-Narratives, 1750-1830, appeared last month from the London publisher Pickering and Chatto.
The edition is the first of its kind and will make accessible to both scholars and students rare texts in which nonhuman creatures and inanimate things serve as the protagonists—or even the narrators. Such texts play an important role in the early history of the novel, but they also express and respond to anxieties about burgeoning consumerism, questions about where human personhood ends and alienable property begins, and uncertainty about the distinctions between humans and other animals in a world haunted by the Atlantic slave trade, by “sapient pigs” and feral children, and by the imposition of capital punishment for property crimes.
Blackwell served as the general editor of the project, composing the general introduction, introducing and annotating one of the volumes, and overseeing three other volume editors: Liz Bellamy (Open University), Heather Keenleyside (University of Chicago), and Tina Lupton (University of Michigan).