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Aux frontières de l’anthropocentrisme: la présence animale dans les romans de Michel Houellebecq
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Modern Languages.
2015 (French)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation sets out to explore the animal presence in the novels of contemporary French writer Michel Houellebecq. Focusing on this often overlooked aspect in the growing number of publications dedicated to Houellebecq’s literary production, this study argues that the presence of animals is central to understanding how his novels are structured around borders between not only animals and humans but also between humans themselves. By pitting animals against humans the novels simultaneously show how these borders are created within the narratives only to be repeatedly broken down and/or transgressed. Whereas in previous research a posthumanvision in Houellebecq’s works has been largely attributed to the theme of a technological surpassing of the human, this study advances the idea that animals constitute an inherent part of Houellebecq’s questioning of an anthropocentric worldview. The first chapter of the thesis, which lays the foundation for the study, explores how descriptions structure two major ways in which animals are present: either as a backdrop setting where the characters, while trying to maintain the border between themselves and animals, are transformed into observers of animals in their natural habitat, or as metaphors used to describe appearances and seemingly unwanted personality traits of some of the characters. The second chapter expands on the idea of a frontier between animals and humans but contrary to the previous chapter it studies the porosity of these borders by showing how humans and animals are depicted and narrated in similar ways. Drawing on the theories of Giorgio Agamben, Dominique Lestel and Tristan Garcia the study concludes by proposing to read Houellebecq’s novels both as a form of life stories relating a common history between animals and humans and as an attempt to highlight the untenable project of maintaining an anthropocentric worldview.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 2015. , 100 p.
Keyword [en]
Michel Houellebecq, Animals, Posthuman, Novel, Borders, Anthropocentrism, Subject, Metaphors, Descriptions, Observer, Science, History, Consumer, Product, Hierarchy
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Romance Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-283482OAI: diva2:919218
2015-09-26, 16-3062, Engelska parken Humanistiskt centrum, Thunbergsvägen 3L, Uppsala, Uppsala, 12:33 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-04-15 Created: 2016-04-13 Last updated: 2016-04-21Bibliographically approved

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