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Date of Award

Spring 2023


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA) in English: Literature




Sacrificial logic separates the animal from the human through the belief that humans are fundamentally different from animals. The origin of this difference can be found in Aristotle’s human-animal divide. The divide permits human violence to be enacted upon animals by utilizing them as metaphorical sacrificial scapegoats while providing a moral framework that justifies their continued sacrifice. The human-animal divide resulted in a discourse of animality as identified by Dr. Cary Wolfe in Animal Rites. The discourse of animality determines the rights of beings through animalized identity schematics that justify the sacrifice, or non-criminal putting to death, of real and metaphorical animalized animals and animalized humans. The overall focus of this thesis examines the sacrificial logic informing Richard Adams’s Watership Down, teases apart the discourses of animality built into it, and interrogates the notion of sensory rhetoric as a literary motif to better address the issues associated with anthropomorphized literary characters. This project makes no attempt to suggest that literature can mend the real-life animal harm resulting from ideology; it merely seeks to explore and identify the harmful roots of western ideology in the hopes that identification opens the door for dismantlement. To avoid the academic tendency to treat animals as abstractions, as identified by Dr. Alice Crary and Dr. Lori Gruen in Animal Crisis, I will intersperse personal stories about my interaction with animals.