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Carnophallogocentrism and vegan narration : from emotional to moral deixis in Alice Walker's 'Am I Blue?'

Presented atWho Tells Your Story?, SANAS Biennial Conference 2022, Fribourg, 18-19 November 2022, p. 12
Presentation date2022-11-19

Alice Walker's very short autobiographical narrative “Am I Blue?” (1986) creates a parallel between the historic enslavement of people and the contemporary enslavement of animals by exploring the discursive mechanics by which subjectivity is denied. The norm for full subject status, against which the narrative stages its critique, is described by Jacques Derrida's concept of carnophallogocentrism according to which full subjectivity is continually and performatively created by the act of consumption: paradigmatically, the consumption of meat. Indeed, in Walker's story the narrator's final words describe spitting out a mouthful of steak which, in her mouth that was earlier full of “talk of freedom and justice,” is transformed into “eating misery.” How the narration orients the implied reader so that the normativity of carnism is judged negatively as being identical with the historic normalization of chattel slavery, in contrast to the narrative's seeming endorsement of a vegan paradigm of freedom and justice, is the question I investigate through the functions of narrative deixis. Alice Walker's short narrative creates two scales of moral values, and two sets of judgment by using a lexicon of emotional and moral deictic expressions, which orients the reader in relation to the apparent vegan values of the narrator's discourse and the carnophallogocentric story world.

  • Ethical veganism
  • Carnism
  • Carnophallogocentrism
  • Slavery
  • Animal studies
  • African-American history
  • Autobiography
  • Deixis
  • Narratology
  • Empathy
Citation (ISO format)
MADSEN, Deborah Lea. Carnophallogocentrism and vegan narration : from emotional to moral deixis in Alice Walker’s “Am I Blue?”. In: Who Tells Your Story? Fribourg. 2022. 12 p.
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