What it Means to be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present

Front Cover
Counterpoint Press, 2011 - History - 469 pages

From the author of The Story of Pain. "This deeply scholarly work is lively and challenging in equal measure, and rewarding throughout" (The Boston Globe).

In 1872, a woman known only as "An Earnest Englishwoman" published a letter titled "Are Women Animals?" in which she protested against the fact that women were not treated as fully human. Her heartfelt cry was for women to "become-animal" in order to gain the status that they were denied on the grounds that they were not part of "mankind."

In this fascinating account, Joanna Bourke addresses the profound question of what it means to be "human" rather than "animal." How are people excluded from political personhood? How does one become entitled to rights? The distinction between the two concepts is a blurred line, permanently under construction. If the Earnest Englishwoman had been capable of looking 100 years into the future, she might have wondered about the human status of chimeras, or the ethics of stem cell research. Political disclosures and scientific advances have been re-locating the human-animal border at an alarming speed. In this meticulously researched, illuminating book, Bourke explores the legacy of more than two centuries, and looks forward into what the future might hold for humans, women, and animals.

"Ultimately, What It Means to Be Human is less an answer than it is an invitation to a series of questions, questions about who and what we are as a species, as souls, and as nodes in a larger complex ecosystem of sentient beings." --Brain Pickings

 

What people are saying - Write a review

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN: Historical Reflections from the 1800s to the Present

User Review  - Kirkus

A scholarly look at more than two centuries of varying interpretations of what it means to be human.British historian Bourke (History/Birkbeck, Univ. of London; Rape: Sex, Violence, History, 2007, etc ... Read full review

Contents

I
1
II
17
III
19
IV
29
V
61
VI
65
VII
67
VIII
71
XVIII
211
XIX
236
XX
247
XXI
258
XXII
263
XXIII
265
XXIV
275
XXV
299

IX
93
X
122
XI
125
XII
127
XIII
133
XIV
164
XV
198
XVI
203
XVII
205
XXVI
326
XXVII
329
XXVIII
331
XXIX
336
XXX
357
XXXI
373
XXXII
377
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information