Candice Allmark-Kent

Candice Allmark-Kent

Department: English
Discipline: English

Project Summary

Through the study of nonhuman protagonists in Canadian literature, my research investigates the ways in which authors attempt to ‘realistically’ represent nonhuman animals. To accurately recreate the perspective of a nonhuman is an impossible task--we can never know the mind of an animal--yet human ignorance of nonhuman life leads to the anthropocentric presumption that animals have no 'perspective,' no experiences worthy of our attention and no interests worthy of our consideration Since we cannot access the minds of nonhuman animals, any attempt to represent nonhuman experience will be speculative. I propose the term 'speculative representation' to encompass those attempts by authors to represent nonhuman animals realistically, particularly those which recognize the limitations of our knowledge of nonhuman life. The term 'speculative' applies particularly well to those authors who begin with current research into animal cognition and behaviour, but ask the all-important 'what if?' question. Many of these representations would be dismissed as anthropomorphic fantasies, but the notion of speculative representation allows for the possibility that nonhuman life is more complex than we currently believe. Beginning with Ernest Thompson Seton and Charles G.D. Roberts, I explore the changing nature of the Canadian animal story to ask: is it possible to represent nonhuman animals ethically in literature which, through its linguistic form, remains inaccessible to the nonhumans it depicts?

Wider Research Interests

Animal Studies; Animal Ethics; Ecocriticism; Science and Literature; North American Literature (American, Canadian, and First Nations Literatures); Postcolonial Studies; Posthumanism; Critical Theory. My interdisciplinary research has also necessarily encouraged research interests in animal behaviour and cognition.