Myth, Absence, Haunting: Toward a Zoopoetics of Extinction

  • Paul Sheehan
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature book series (PSAAL)


This chapter surveys different critical modalities to ascertain how the nascent field of extinction studies might usefully be applied to the literary animal. Bringing these modalities to bear on the various forms of animal disappearance, Sheehan elaborates on what he calls “zoopoetics of extinction,” examining works by the American ecopoet W. S. Merwin, particularly his apocalyptic 1967 collection, The Lice, as well as more recent writings of the British musician and poet Richard Skelton, which focus on animal and mineral traces that continue to haunt the topographical imagination. Through these case studies, Sheehan questions the disappearing literary-poetic animal and whether its passage from the physical world to the realm of pure language is stymied or quickened by the mandates of appropriation.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Sheehan
    • 1
  1. 1.Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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