Research Thursdays - “Impersonating Animals: Rhetoric, Ecofeminism, and Animal Rights Law” by S. Marek Muller

S. Marek Muller

Thursday, Sep 03, 2020

S. Marek Muller, assistant professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, recently had her book “Impersonating Animals: Rhetoric, Ecofeminism, and Animal Rights Law” published by Michigan State University Press. 

Multiple law schools now offer classes in animal law and have animal law clinics, placing their students with a growing range of animal rights and animal welfare advocacy organizations. But is legal personhood the best means to achieving total interspecies liberation? To answer that question, “Impersonating Animals” evaluates the rhetoric of animal rights activists Steven Wise and Gary Francione, as well as the Earth jurisprudence paradigm.

Deploying a critical ecofeminist stance sensitive to the interweaving of ideas about race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, and species, Muller places animal rights rhetoric in the context of discourses in which some humans have been deemed more animal than others and some animals have been deemed more human than others. In bringing rhetoric and animal studies together, Muller shows that how we communicate about nonhuman beings necessarily affects relationships across species boundaries and among people. 

This book also highlights how animal studies scholars and activists can and should use ideological rhetorical criticism to investigate the implications of their tactics and strategies, emphasizing a critical vegan rhetoric as an ideal means of achieving liberation for human and nonhuman animals alike. 

“This impressive and engaging book demonstrates why those who care about nonhuman animal rights should also care about rhetoric, and why those who are mindful of rhetoric should also be mindful of nonhuman animals.” –  Garrett M. Broad, Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Fordham University, and author of More Than Just Food: Food Justice and Community Change 

More information on “Impersonating Animals” can be found here:

Muller is a a rhetorician interested in discourse and argumentation surrounding animal rights, veganism, the law, and social justice. Her work has been published in venues such as Communication Studies, Journal for Critical Animal Studies, Environmental Communication and Women’s Studies in Communication.

(Printable Version)