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The Pasture of Rats: Verminous Bodies of the First World War

Hutchings, Rory Michael (2022) The Pasture of Rats: Verminous Bodies of the First World War. In: New Voices in Animal Humanities, 15 Nov 2022, University of Kent, Canterbury. (Unpublished) (KAR id:99273)


This paper examines competing notions of the revitalising and degrading effects of conflict in writing of the First World War through soldiers’ encounters with vermin. I argue that the proliferation of verminous animals, such as rats and lice, and their accompanying ill-effects challenge muscular ideals of military discipline and self-possession. In writing of the First World War, there is a recurrent focus on the slow erosion of the body, either through instances of spectacular violence or the drudgeries of soldiering of which vermin form a significant part. Soldiers’ bodies itch, ooze, shiver and ache; when they are dead, they are destined to become what Frederic Manning calls ‘the pasture of rats’ in 'Her Privates We' (1930). These experiences shape war writing in significant ways, expressing anxieties around the transformation and destiny of the body under warfare

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: Vermin, Animal Studies, War Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I (1914-1918)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Depositing User: Rory Hutchings
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2022 11:49 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2023 14:23 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Hutchings, Rory Michael.

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