This book began as a dissertation written in the Department of Comparative Literature at Brown University. It took shape during years spent as an assistant professor of comparative literature at Cornell University and came to completion during my time as an assistant professor of comparative literature and English at the University of Michigan. I gratefully acknowledge the institutional networks that sustained and enlivened this work and the many individuals who helped make it possible.
I thank my colleagues in the departments of comparative literature and English language and literature at Michigan for ensuring I had the resources I needed to complete the book under the best possible conditions. I am grateful for the vibrant intellectual communities I find in both departments. I have benefited greatly from the support of my department chairs and associate chairs: Yopie Prins, Silke Weineck, David Porter, Lucy Hartley, and Gaurav Desai. I am extremely fortunate to have the mentorship of Marjorie Levinson, Peggy McCracken, and Scotti Parrish, who have engaged, read, and supported me with great care and intellect. A warm thank you to the administrative staff, and particularly to Amy Argersinger, Julie Claus Burnett, Katie Colman, Judy Gray, Jane Johnson, and Joe Johnson for their consummate professionalism and infinite patience.
I am deeply grateful for the support I received while a junior faculty member at Cornell University from 2013 to 2015. Many thanks to Andrea Bachner, Anindita Banerjee, Cathy Caruth, Cynthia Chase, Jonathan Culler, Brett de Bary, Laurent Dubreuil, Paul Fleming, Tom McEnaney, Tracy McNulty, Natalie Melas, Jonathan Monroe, Karen Pinkus, Nancy Pollak, and Naoki Sakai for their warmth and generosity. A special thanks to Timothy Murray for welcoming me to the Society for the Humanities’ seminar table when I first arrived in Ithaca.
As a graduate student at Brown University, and only a recent transplant from the French system, I was especially fortunate to learn from and enjoy the support of many professors: Réda Bensmaïa, Anthony Bogues, Kenneth Haynes, Kevin McLaughlin, Karen Newman, Marc Redfield, Gerhard Richter, and Zachary Sng. I cannot thank Barbara Herrnstein Smith enough for her unparalleled critical rigor. Her contagious enthusiasm for Nietzsche and Foucault, brilliant asides, and sense of humor will continue to influence my scholarship for years to come. My time at Brown would have been less happy if not for the wonderful Charles Auger and Carol Wilson-Allen and for the companionship of my graduate cohort in comparative literature, in particular Silvia Cernea Clark and Natalie Adler. The early stage of my research was supported by a fellowship at the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University, for which I thank Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg. I also thank those professors at Brown who were especially supportive during my time as a Fulbright Scholar in 2007–2008, which first gave real legs to my desire to pursue a career in the United States: Susan Bernstein, William Keach, Kevin McLaughlin, Deak Nabers, and Len Tennenhouse.
This book benefited immensely from the provocative insights of Dana Luciano and Cary Wolfe, whose scholarship has long shaped my thinking. I am humbled by the rigor and generosity with which they engaged my work. Scotti Parrish and Peggy McCracken’s trenchant comments and thoughtful criticisms invaluably sharpened my thinking.
For reading drafts of chapters at various stages of completion, I am grateful to Irina Aristarkhova, Lauren Benjamin, Michael Boyden, Walter Cohen, Duygu Ergun, Laura Finch, Lucy Hartley, Kenneth Haynes, Danny Herwitz, Justin Joque, Yael Kenan, Silvia Lindtner, Tomoko Masuzawa, Joshua Miller, Benjamin Murphy, Benjamin Paloff, Yopie Prins, Mauro Resmini, Anton Shammas, Xiaobing Tang, Stéphane Vanderhaeghe, and Daniel Vandersommers. For crucial displays of support and encouragement at key turns, I thank Monique Allewaert, Nancy Armstrong, Branka Arsić, Jane Bradley Winston, Timothy Campbell, Rey Chow, Lee Edelman, Kim Evans, Anne-Lise François, Lynne Huffer, Gregg Lambert, Joe Litvak, Don Pease, Lloyd Pratt, Nasrin Qader, Matthew Solomon, Len Tennenhouse, and Michelle Ty.
I have had the privilege of presenting and workshopping material from this book at talks and conferences at the Institute for the Humanities and the Central Concepts in Contemporary Theory Working Group at the University of Michigan; the A19 (19th Century Americanists) Group at the Université Paris Diderot; the Department of French and Italian at Northwestern University; the Department of English at the Université Paris 8; the Department of Comparative Literature and the Expanded Communities and Posthumanity Symposium at Cornell University; the Department of English at Lille III; the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University; the Center for 21st Century Studies at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; the American Comparative Literature Association; the Society for Novel Studies conference; the American Society for Environmental History; the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts; the Society of Early Americanists; the Association Française d’Etudes Américaines; and Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies.
This book was revised and revised and revised in the company of several exceedingly supportive writing groups. At Cornell, I want to thank the members of the animal studies group: Elisha Cohn, Peter Gilgen, Tyran Grillo, and Sam Zacher. I also thank members of the working group on Besetzung: Bruno Bosteels, Paul Fleming, Amanda Jo Goldstein, Nathan Taylor, and Johannes Wankhammer. At Michigan, I thank the members of the LFF writing group for suffering many versions of my Introduction and for allowing me to take advantage of their individual and collective genius: Hadji Bakara, Ingrid Diran, Sarah Ensor, Anna Watkins Fisher, and Molly Lynch. For the final push, I had the good favor of benefiting from the intellectual community of the Institute for the Humanities’ Summer Faculty Fellowship program. For their helpful feedback and good cheer, I thank Peggy McCracken, Philip Christman, Henry Cowles, Enrique García Santo-Tomás, Annette Joseph-Gabriel, Shelley Manis, Christine Modey, and David Morse.
I have been fortunate to collaborate with many exceptional thinkers and friends over the past few years. These collaborations have roused my thinking and buoyed my spirit. Special thanks to Naminata Diabate for speculating with me about biopolitical futures; to Amanda Jo Goldstein for mulling over our uncommon natures; to Tobias Menely for moving the conversation from finitude to surplus; to Seb Franklin for the exhausting but exciting workshop on capitalist capture at King’s College London; and to Ingrid Diran for countless sessions spent decalcifying our fossil imaginaries. Ingrid deserves special mention here as she has read every chapter more times than anyone ever should, each time making them incomparably better and smarter. I remain forever indebted to Thangam Ravindranathan for her idiosyncratic brilliance and for the many insights gained in long conversations with her about the ever-elusive animal.
I am grateful to treasured friends, new and old, for so many good times: Amanda Alexander, Diana Allan, Merike Andre-Barrett, Farid Aouiachia, Grégoire Archière, Amanda Armstrong, Gavin Arnall, Michael Ashkin, Marion Bacrot, Lynn Badia, Hadji Bakara, Tim Bewes, Ariane Blayac, Bénédicte Boisseron, Anna Bonnell Freidin, Leslie Brack, Curtis Brown, Vincent Bruyère, Vivian Choi, Pierre Corbeil, Henry Cowles, Clare Croft, Manan Desai, Retika Desai, Xavier D’Halluin, Ingrid Diran, Sarah Ensor, Kim Evans, Raphaëlle Frija, Amanda Jo Goldstein, Patty Keller, Vanasay Khamphommala, Aliyah Khan, Athena Kirk, Bertrand Lécuyer, Blandine Lécuyer, Rafaële Lécuyer, Joseph Lee, Annie Lewandowski, Silvia Lindtner, Alex Livingston, Molly Lynch, Viviana Maggioni, Ted Martin, François Massonnat, Annie McClanahan, Sara McClelland, Tom McEnaney, Andrew Moisey, Roger Moseley, Jonathan Mullins, Sarah Murray, Emily Nacol, Ben Parris, Ben Piekut, Verity Platt, Thangam Ravindranathan, Mauro Resmini, Charlotte Rosier, Ana Sabau, Romain Savreux, Nandi Theunissen, Kris Trujillo, Flora Valadié, Audrey Vermersch, Agnès Volle, Brian Weeks, Gillian White, and Jan de Wilde.
I thank my cherished French teachers, mentors, and interlocutors, who instilled, encouraged, and share my interest in the way philosophical and literary discourses traverse and redefine one another during my time as a student for the agrégation at Ulm, as a graduate student at Université Lille 3, and as an instructor at Université Paris 8: Yves Abrioux, Noëlle Batt, Thomas Constantinesco, Agnès Derail-Imbert, Mathieu Duplay, Pierre-Louis Patoine, Ronan Ludot-Vlasak, Cécile Roudeau, Anne Ullmo, and Stéphane Vanderhaeghe.
I gratefully acknowledge the pathbreaking work of my friends and colleagues in animality studies, who have affected my thinking in ways they may or may not know: Sarah Bezan, Colleen Boggs, Irus Braverman, Matthew Calarco, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Ted Geier, Akira Lippit, Susan McHugh, Tobias Menely, Alain Romestaing, Nigel Rothfels, Marta Segarra, Daniel Vandersommers, and Kari Weil. Deep thanks are due to Deb Zureik, who took the time to give me a private tour of the Cincinnati Zoo and gave me access to the zoo’s archives on Martha.
While a faculty member at the University of Michigan, I have had the honor of getting to teach, but mostly to learn, at Macomb Correctional Facility. A special thank you to my friends who are or have been incarcerated there: Chris, Cowboy, David, Donald, Jay, Jemal, Julio, Justin, Mario, Oscar, Q, Randy, Steve, Tyrone, and in particular Bantu—teacher and philosopher extraordinaire. I am everyday inspired by the transformative work you’re doing inside. My gratitude also to the outside members of the Theory Group for their incredible work on restorative justice: Amanda Alexander, Imani Byrd, Paul Draus, Molly Manley, Heather Mooney, Jeff Morenoff, Becca Pickus, Gerard Robertson, and Ruby Tapia.
The book is much better for the thoughtful and perceptive feedback I received from the two anonymous readers of the manuscript. At the University of Minnesota Press, I have been fortunate to work with Doug Armato, who expertly shepherded this book through the review process. I am grateful to Gabriel Levin, Zenyse Miller, Rachel Moeller, Mike Stoffel, and Anne Wrenn for guiding me through the final steps of completion. Many thanks to Ziggy Snow for his attentive copyediting and to Sandra Friesen for her gorgeous cover design. I also acknowledge the helpful vote of support that Cary Wolfe and Cesare Casarino offered me along the way.
The book became immeasurably more cogent under the keen editorial eyes of Kim Greenwell and Heath Sledge. Thanks also to Elizabeth McNeill for her superb research assistance.
Deep thanks are due to my families on both sides of the Atlantic for their continuous support and encouragement. Thank you to my parents, Christian and Catherine, my siblings Florence and Étienne (and their families), and my in-laws, Gwen and Evans.
I am grateful for the welcomed distractions of my favorite writing companions—Henry, Birdie, and Mabel—whose Umwelten make mine incomparably richer.
Finally, I thank my first, last, and best reader, Anna. Thank you for making this book, and everything in my life, better and more exciting. Your encouragement and countless brilliant insights have inspired me and this project in ways words could never begin to capture.