Bringing the Laboratory Dog Home

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and the Antivivisection Narrative


  • Alyssa Chen Walker



This essay considers the role of popular fiction in the vivisection debates of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Specifically, it argues that the fictional narratives of American author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (a vociferous proponent of humane reform in New England) infused the anti-vivisection movement with a sense of urgency. By exploiting the formal properties of the novel, Phelps encouraged readers to reimagine the anonymous laboratory dog both as a surrogate child and as private property. In doing so, her imaginative literature illustrated, in ways that other discursive forms did not, how vivisection corroded fin de siècle America’s most sacrosanct values.


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Author Biography

Alyssa Chen Walker

Alyssa Chen Walker is a doctoral candidate in American Culture at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she is completing a dissertation on humane reading and writing in the United States. She holds a B.A. in English from Yale University, an M.A. in English from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Creative Writing from University of Missouri, Columbia.




How to Cite

Walker, Alyssa Chen. 2013. “Bringing the Laboratory Dog Home: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and the Antivivisection Narrative”. Humanimalia 4 (2):101-29.