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The Accommodated AnimalCosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales$
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Laurie Shannon

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226924168

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226924182.001.0001

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Night-Rule: The Alternative Politics of the Dark; or, Empires of the Nonhuman

Night-Rule: The Alternative Politics of the Dark; or, Empires of the Nonhuman

Chapter Four (p.174) Night-Rule: The Alternative Politics of the Dark; or, Empires of the Nonhuman
The Accommodated Animal

Laurie Shannon

University of Chicago Press

This chapter considers the handicapped experience that humans encounter during the nighttime. The night’s incapacitating nature questions the human claims on panoptical or sovereign earthly rule by measuring our human perceptual skills and effectiveness against the sensory capacities of animals, particularly nocturnal animals. The nighttime, then, is viewed as a nonhuman jurisdiction. The chapter then returns to Montaigne’s “Apologie” and Descartes’s Discourse on a more epistemological front. It also examines William Baldwin’s Beware the Cat (1570) and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (ca. 1595), where human authority is portrayed within species-defined limits. In the latter work of Shakespeare, the playwright imagines the nighttime and shows it as a nonhuman empire, suggesting that humans should rest their eyes, lie low in bed, and let the vile things rule.

Keywords:   night-rule, Apologie, Descartes, Montaigne, William Baldwin, Beware the Cat, Midsummer Night’s Dream, sovereign earthly rule, nighttime, nonhuman empire

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