What is it like to be a human? If an octopus wrote an anthropology based on human depictions of octopuses then how might that reconfigure this existential question? This thesis addresses the posthuman problem of visual bias in animal storytelling practices by experimentally adopting the perspective of another highly visual animal - the octopus - through fiction. It seeks to question, find the edges, and feel the limitations of human representations of other animals and asks what doing so might say about our own naturalcultural perceptions and interpretations. In attending particularly to opticality in Anglophone storytelling, the thesis investigates ways in which representations of nonhuman animals and their Umwelten, or perceptual worlds, may be hindered by anthropocentric and anthropomorphic perceptual biases that misapprehend different ways of seeing. The thesis proceeds from the position that the eye is not separate from the rest of the perceptual apparatus, but that interconnected sensory perceptions are frequently filtered through vision in fictional texts. It argues that this visual bias in animal storytelling, based on misrecognitions and cultural misunderstandings, leads to a failure to recognise other animals’ agency. Drawing on posthuman thought across the fields of media and literary theory, psychology, anthropology and philosophy of science, this thesis assembles and synthesises a cross-disciplinary approach to analysing animal storytelling. The work and its approach are grounded in artistic and librarianship practices, it applies knowledge gained from the practice of art to investigate the mediation of nonhuman animals in fiction. Analysing fiction about other animals and zoological literature on octopus visual cognition, from the alien perspective of a differently visual animal, makes it possible to suggest that the empathic, mimetic western human optic is based in a visuality evolved for a predatory and acquisitive ground-dwelling lifestyle, through which it interprets and mediates nonhuman animals. By reconceptualising visuality from this ecological perspective, it aims to disclose misrecognitions, representational blind spots and cultural misunderstandings in animal storytelling in order that we might tell stories, in the broadest sense, that better recognise the agency of other animals. Storytelling is understood here as the narrative form through which knowledge is transmitted and contextualised in academic disciplines and cultural artefacts; including narratives in anthropology, natural history, philosophy and science; or mediated through fiction, films, artworks and AI. Drawing on zoological, artistic and literary thought, and taking inspiration from seventeenth century poet, philosopher and scientist Margaret Cavendish, this thesis makes the argument that anthropocentric and anthropomorphic visual metaphors and focalisation of other animals tend to represent ways they inhabit and move through human Umwelten, from a human perspective, thereby reducing narrative affordances for expressing agency in relation to differently constructed Umwelten. In doing this, it hopes to contribute to the ethical and political aims of the posthuman project of flattening species hierarchies by recognising and attempting to mitigate human bias. In taking the set of perspectives and positions it does, partly through the author's writing experiments which utilise animal focalisation, it also intends to affect a sense of respect for other animals’ differing but equally important affordances, purposes and ways of life within the environments we share.

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