homo homini lupus, or, Romantic Beast Wars
The judicial bestiary at the heart of eighteenth-century politics has long been evident in Enlightenment social contract debates, as Michel Foucault’s and Giorgio Agamben’s theories of biopolitics show. In this essay, I argue that Wollstonecraft is nonetheless the first thinker of ‘true’ werewolf out-lawry in her final novel, Maria, Or the Wrongs of Woman and in her letters to Godwin. In the novel, Wollstonecraft leverages what we now call new materialism as a feminist critique of heteropatriarchal society. Wollstonecraft’s new materialist thinking also scrambles gender across even human and nonhuman distinctions. To counter microcosmic familial and macrocosmic state heteropatriarchy, Wollstonecraft theorizes what I am calling, following the example of wolves and werewolves, not a family but a ‘pack’. The pack manifests as new spacetimes through what Karen Barad terms “quantum entanglements” that produce love between subjects and subjects but that never strives to reproduce binaristic pairings that reproduce the sovereign family. A pack, as Wollstonecraft’s texts demonstrate, emerges from processes of co-creation that iterate new subjects and objects without dynamic power structures structured around stable gender identities or human and nonhuman power relations.
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