Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds: A Cognitive Historical Analysis
Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds employs current research in cognitive science and the philosophy of animal cognition to explore how humans have understood non-human animals in the Iberian world, from the Middle Ages through the early modern period. Using texts from European and Indigenously-informed sources, Steven Wagschal argues that people tend to conceptualize the minds of animals in ways that reflect their own uses for the animal, the manner in which they interact with the animal, and the place in which the animal lives. Often this has little if anything to do with the actual cognitive abilities of the animal. However, occasionally early authors made surprisingly accurate assumptions about the thoughts and feelings of animals.
Wagschal explores a number of ways in which culture and human cognition interact, including: the utility of anthropomorphism; the symbolic use of animals in medieval Christian texts; attempts at understanding the minds of animals in Spain’s early modern farming and hunting books; the effect of novelty on animal conceptualizations in "New World" histories, and how Cervantes navigated the forms of anthropomorphism that preceded him to create the first embodied animal minds in fiction.
- Series: Toronto Iberic
- World Rights
- Page Count: 360 pages
- Dimensions: 5.9in x 1.3in x 9.2in
"Ultimately, Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds places the animal at the center of early modern literary studies, it also acts as a robust call for constructive anthropomorphism, following upon the lines of animal rights advocacy initiated in the utilitarian philosopher Peter Singer’s groundbreaking Animal Liberation. Steven Wagschal suggests appropriate ways in which to ‘mind’ or consider and treat animals, modes that adopt an animal-centric perspective and reject anthropectomy."
Adrienne Martin, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Davis
"Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds makes a truly major contribution to the growing field of medieval and early modern animal studies—a field with which Steven Wagschal is well versed. Minding Animals in the Old and New Worlds is an extremely well-written piece of sound scholarship that is never gratuitous in its use of conceptual terminology."
Abel Alves, Department of History, Ball State University
Author InformationSteven Wagschal is a professor and chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Indiana University, Bloomington.
Table of contents
- Minding Animals with Anthropomorphism
- Deploying The Animal in Medieval Miracles, Bestiaries and Fables
- Exploiting The Animal through Husbandry and Hunting
- Describing The Animal in New World Habitats
- Embodying Animals: Cervantes and Animal Cognition
- Minding Animals after Cervantes
Subjects and Courses