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Saving the Stuffed Animal: Narratives of Violence, Fictions of Comfort

Rim, Jiwon (2021) Saving the Stuffed Animal: Narratives of Violence, Fictions of Comfort. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Saving the Stuffed Animal: Narratives of Violence, Fictions of Comfort defines a genre of “comforting stuffed toy animal fiction” (abbreviated as stuffed animal fiction) within the tradition of children’s books featuring animals, and studies its role in the construction of the Anglo-American discourse on animals since the genre’s inception in the turn of the twentieth century. The stuffed toy animals in stuffed animal fictions are not fake animals or humans in disguise, but are species of animal-made-commodities. Stuffed animal fictions produce and circulate comforting narratives in which the stuffed animal gets relieved from threats of violence, at the same time as selling these narratives as a product for naïve, animal-loving children. My dissertation makes visible the cultural process through which the genre of stuffed animal fiction manages the discomforting awareness of the predicament of animals—first, providing fictional narratives of animals’ relief and then framing the need for such narrative as children’s. Chapter 1 follows the development of the genre from its inauguration in A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) to its classic manifestations in Don Freeman’s Corduroy (1968) and Joan Robinson’s Teddy Robinson stories (1953-1964). Late twentieth century works still make use of the tropes of stuffed animal fictions established in Winnie-the-Pooh, but are as a rule more conscious of the genre’s suspicious relationship to violence perpetrated on animals. Chapter 2 looks at how the comfort of stuffed animal fictions is questioned through a realistic depiction of the worn stuffed animal bodies in picture books such as Dom Mansell’s My Old Teddy (1991) and Jane Hissey’s Old Bear stories (1986-2003). Chapter 3 discusses how the 2010s attempts at rewriting of the Pooh stories betray uncertainties as to the fate of “real” bears in history. Chapter 4 focuses on works that illuminate how the individual narratives of animal rescue help maintain the brutal system of animal commodification, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952) being one of the works that borrow from and question the stuffed animal fictions’ trope of animal relief.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBoone,
Committee MemberWaldron,
Committee MemberBickford,
Committee MemberChapman,
Date: 8 October 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 May 2021
Approval Date: 8 October 2021
Submission Date: 2 July 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 147
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Animal Ethics, Consumption, Violence, Narratives of Comfort, Child Reader, Innocence.
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2021 20:14
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2023 05:15


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