“Voicing the Fox: Vulpine Bodies and the Zoopolitics of Listening”


J.W. Clark

Musicology And Capstone Conference 2021

"Voicing the Fox: Vulpine Bodies and the Zoopolitics of Listening"

While favorites of storytellers, foxes are often vilified due in part to their “uncomfortable” proximity to humanness, particularly in behavior and appearance. Like many essentializing performances of Others, musical and sonic characterizations of foxes rely on these preexisting notions of species or kind, and often exoticize, infantilize, and generalize their subjects, adhering to notions of difference based in dominant cultural discourse.

Advancing a “specific” approach to representational analysis, this project gives close attention to how red foxes have been constituted through sound in Western cultural contexts. Locating the red fox as a liminal figure subject to conditional appraisals of personhood, I begin by showing how Leoš Janáček’s 1924 opera The Cunning Little Vixen situates its titular fox within a decisively folkloric tradition through recourse to representational strategies reliant on stereotypes derived from traditions of the “animal fable.” Further, reading the listening practices of a New Jersey foxhunting community (wherein foxes are lauded as “conductors of canine symphonies” even as they are pursued for sport), and discourses around a recent trend of internet videos featuring fur-farm rescue foxes (where a fox’s “singing” becomes evidence of her “humanity”), I look to trouble acts that presume to “give voice” to nonhuman animals in order to reveal how such seemingly reverential anthropomorphisms might obscure more insidious transspecies hierarchies of violence.

"Voicing the Fox: Vulpine Bodies and the Zoopolitics of Listening"

“Mělas dělat podlivá mně.”


“Hleďte, sestry, jakého máte vůdce!”


“Kevie sings a pretty song”:


“Finnegan – The foxes that say HEHEHE”: