VanDette reintroduces novel that spurred animal rights movement

Monday September 30, 2019Roger Coda
book cover art

Department of English Professor Emily E. VanDette has published a critical edition of “Trixy,” a 1904 novel by the best-selling American author and women’s rights activist Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. The novel exposes the ethical issues surrounding the practice of vivisection, or scientific experiments on live animals.

In “Trixy,” contemporary readers can trace the roots of the early animal rights movement in Phelps’s influential campaign to introduce legislation to regulate or end this practice. Dr. VanDette’s introduction places Phelps's animal writing in the context of social reform campaigns and literary trends of the day, while also demonstrating that Phelps’s protest writing was ahead of its time.

In addition to restoring Phelps's novel, which has been out of print for over a century, VanDette's edition includes the animal rights story "A Dog's Tale" by Phelps's contemporary, Mark Twain, as well as additional writings by Phelps. VanDette also includes endnotes to provide historical, biographical and cultural contexts that acknowledge the importance of the novel.

“Trixy” will be released by Northwestern University Press on Oct. 15, and will be available for purchase at the Faculty Student Association Bookstore on campus. It is part of Northwestern UP’s Curbstone Books imprint.

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