This dissertation employs relational reading to examine how and why 19th- and 20th- century U.S. and Sinophone poets invoked the human/animal divide through composition of imaginative space and deconstruction of a linguicentric conception of the world. I argue that Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, in particular, demonstrate a manner of engaging nonhuman subjects that corresponds to what Jacques Derrida terms zoopoetics and initiates alternative, multispecies world-building during their poetic composition. Further, I contend that when Whitman and Dickinson write to, as, and with animals, they write as world poet in this anti-anthropocentric alter-world. And when, in the mid-to late 20th-century, Sinophone poets write their own animal-focused poetries in response, their writing manifests this ongoing posthuman challenge to the categories structuring and dictating both global literary exchange and conventional literary study.
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