The topic “Tracing Non-Human Agency in Anglophone Literatures” proceeds from the assumption that non-human actors displace traditional western models of agency. The non-human is not merely an object for human interpretation or a static background against which human agency may be played out. Rather, it claims an agency of its own, which affects humans in frequently unpredictable ways. Though literature and other creative practices have always acknowledged the agency of non-human, it is only now – with the advent of more and more critical thought in the fields of posthumanism and ecocriticism – that we have the critical tools to adequately address the productivity of the non-human and its manifold influences and impacts. The non-human, so our assumption, shows its intractable agency in numerous ways: It may act back, ‘stare back’, or defer human action.
The discussion of non-human agency touches upon a number of topics that can also be discussed from a historical perspective: