Residency Period: 03/01/2009 to 02/28/2010

Professor Maria Esther Maciel de Oliveira Borges is an associate professor of Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Letters of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). She has a master’s degree in Brazilian Literature from UFMG (1990), a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the same institution (1995) and a postdoctoral degree in Cinema from the University of London (1999/2000). She is part of the international project Problematizing Global Knowledge -The New Encyclopaedia Project, from Theory, Culture & Society Centre, Nottingham Trent University (England). His publications include the following books: The vertigo of lucidity – poetry and criticism in Octavio Paz; Vôo Transverso – poetry, modernity and the end of the 20th century; The memory of things essays on literature, cinema and visual arts; The encyclopedic cinema of Peter Greenaway (eds.), The book of Zenobia (fiction), The book of names (fiction) and The written animal (essay). She develops, as a CNPq researcher, the Contemporary Bestiaries project – animals in literature.


This project proposes to investigate, from a transdisciplinary perspective, how animals have been fictionally represented in literature from the second half of the 20th century onwards, when not only global concerns around ecological problems but also ethical reflections about practices of subjection and cruelty against animals have become more pressing in the contemporary world. I intend to discuss, from a critical view of the Western zooliterary tradition, the ways in which some contemporary writers of different nationalities have dealt with the so-called “animal question”, creating works that, far from being mere erudite restorations of the bestiary genre, as fictional spaces for reflection on literary, cultural, ethical and political aspects related to the zoological universe.

To this end, the literary corpus of the research will integrate selected texts by authors who, from Kafka to J.M.Coetzee, such as Clarice Lispector, George Orwell, Antonio Di Benedetto, Ted Hughes and Wilson Bueno, created innovative zoopoetics, still problematizing – from poetic artifices -varied fictional – the complexity of the relations between the human and the inhuman. The approach to literary texts will be done mainly in the light of theoretical notes on the “animal question” carried out, in recent decades, in the fields of philosophy, zoology, ethology and ecocriticism, by authors such as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Giorgio Agamben , Dominique Lestel, Armelle Bras-Chopard, Peter Singer and Greg Garrard.

By exploring this theme in the field of literary studies, in its interface with other disciplines, I hope to contribute to the establishment, in the field of Brazilian studies of Comparative Literature, of a mobile and transdisciplinary space for critical-theoretical reflection on the presence of animals in literature. , in which the terms “zoopoetics” and “zooliterature” may also constitute new conceptual strands.