Post blog entry #4: Briefly describe Murphy’s project and then discuss one specific way you might forward her analysis.
In this absolutely riveting piece, Murphy explores the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876 and the questions it raised about the distinctions between animals and humans. More specifically, she wishes to “look at some ways in which the prevailing conception of the human, embedded in the regulatory character of the 1876 law, came to be a site of contestation in vivisection debates” (367). Murphy examines the writings of antivivisectionists, including that of Wilkie Collins’ Heart and Science, to determine how the Act both answered and created questions about humanity, its shortfalls in the regulation of vivisection, and how writers and critics reacted to these very uncertainties.
Already, we can see Murphy doing some forwarding of her own. She uses the ideas set forth in Heart and Science to advance her own dialogue by paraphrasing, quoting directly, and providing analysis. For example, she exemplifies the wide scope of uncertainties regarding vivisection that were prevalent in Collins’ time: “…[Collins] is also opening the door to the argument that we have seen made by Coleridge: that vivisection practices ramify beyond the suffering inflicted on animals in a laboratory, threatening the fundamental qualities attributed to humanity” (377). If I am interpreting Harris’s chapter on forwarding correctly, I believe that here Murphy is, to use Harris’s term, borrowing.
To further forward Murphy’s analysis, I might like to examine, if possible, how the general public came to interpret Heart and Science in the midst of the confusion surrounding the 1876 law and the concepts of vivisection. I believe it’s important to examine the text in a cultural context as a way to supplement Murphy’s observations on how it could be used to interpret antivivisectionist sentiment in the 19th century. To use, once again, Harris’s specific terms, I would invoke Murphy’s authority in my writing, seeing as she has done an incredible amount of research on the subject of vivisection.