Sensing Slaughter: Exploring the Sounds and Smells of Nonhuman Literary Encounters

  • Sune BorkfeltEmail author
Part of the Cultural Animal Studies book series (CAS, volume 4)


In literary analysis as in real life, the visual holds a privileged position as the experience most often intellectualized and/or aestheticized. However, increased analytical focus on the phenomena of sound and smell often open up new perspectives on the experiences of literary characters and on the nature of experience as such. This is especially compelling in the case of texts in which humans encounter nonhumans (and vice versa). Through a focus on encounters with animal markets and slaughterhouses in texts from the nineteenth century onwards, this paper attempts to theorize the literary experience of the sounds and smells of nonhuman animals. Hence, it is argued that a heightened focus on other senses than the visual opens up different potential and allows for reading experiences that are perhaps more emotive and intuitive, rather than rationalized, and which can highlight nonhuman agency. In particular, reading scenes of slaughter through the senses in this way may lead to a heightened awareness of the distance or proximity of slaughter in readers’ lives.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Deutschland, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aarhus CDenmark

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