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The “Cruel Absurdity” of Human Violence and Its Consequences. A Vegan Studies Analysis of a Pandemic Novel

Jessica Murray


This article teases out what a Vegan Studies theoretical framework can offer a literary analysis of a selected pandemic novel, “The Fell” (2021), by Sarah Moss. Pandemic fiction accommodates texts from a wide range of genres, and these types of literary texts have seen a resurgence in the wake of the spread of the corona virus. While literary engagements with pandemics have often been relegated to the realms of dystopian science fiction, our current realities have shifted to such an extent that they can now comfortably be read alongside more realistic fictional representations of contemporary societies. The causal relationships between anthropocentric abuse of the environment in general and of animals in particular, and pandemics have been energetically contested in the media and in scholarly disciplinary fields ranging from Virology to Critical Animal Studies. The argument that I will develop is that Vegan Studies is a theoretical rubric with unique and salient generative capacity and that it allows for the emergence of fresh and necessary insights when we start unpacking how to make sense of pandemics through fiction. I will use Moss’s novel to anchor and illustrate my argument in favour of the value of Vegan Studies in these discussions.


animals; factory farming; food politics; literary studies; more-thanhuman; pandemic fiction; Sarah Moss; veganism; Vegan Studies; violence.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2022-02-murj

Copyright (©) 2023 Jessica Murray – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Barbara Muraca - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo

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