Transformative entanglements

Birds and humans in three non-fictional texts

Authored by: Wendy Woodward

Routledge Handbook of Ecocriticism and Environmental Communication

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138053137
eBook ISBN: 9781315167343
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reads Charles Foster’s Being a Beast (2016), Esther Woolfson’s Corvus: A Life with Birds (2008), and Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk (2014) in relation to Vinciane Despret’s theory of anthropo-zoo-genesis (2004): human–animal interconnections which involve the minds and embodiment of both. A reciprocal relationship between human and bird in which transforming each other may recur is barely attainable for Foster in his obsession with swifts, but Macdonald and Woolfson are “available” to birds with whom they live—for the former a goshawk, for the latter a rook and magpie. Play, training and common lifeways as well as aspects of wildness and love feature in their human–avian “being with”. All three texts proffer lively, complex stories of birds which may serve to counterbalance, a little, our grieving at extensive extinctions of bird species.

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