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The Birth of a JungleAnimality in Progressive-Era U.S. Literature and Culture$
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Michael Lundblad

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917570

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.001.0001

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Progressive-Era Sexuality and the Nature of the Beast in Henry James

Progressive-Era Sexuality and the Nature of the Beast in Henry James

Chapter:
(p.31) 1 Progressive-Era Sexuality and the Nature of the Beast in Henry James
Source:
The Birth of a Jungle
Author(s):

Michael Lundblad

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917570.003.0012

In Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Sedgwick argues that the discourse of sexuality shifted at the end of the nineteenth century from an emphasis on sexual acts to sexual identities. Sedgwick builds upon Foucault's famous declaration that the “species” of the homosexual was born at that moment. But Sedgwick and others working on histories of sexuality in the United States have elided the discourse of the jungle: Darwinist-Freudian constructions of “the human” and “the animal” that redefine various behaviors in relation to animal instincts. This helps to explain why the discourse of sexuality shifted at the turn of the century, once heterosexuality was naturalized in the name of reproduction. Questions about human sexuality were soon framed within an evolutionary epistemology that was fundamentally new, but still in transition. After tracing the genealogy of the jungle through Darwin, Kipling, and Freud, this chapter focuses on alternative constructions of the relationship between animality and sexuality that are revealed in Progressive-Era texts.

Keywords:   jungle, history of sexuality, beast, animal, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Eve Sedgwick, Henry James

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