Stephanie Marek Muller publishes paper on “Companion Cyborgs: Untethering Discourses About Wolf-Hybrids” in Environmental Communication (August 2020)

S. Marek Muller, a rhetorician and assistant professor at Florida Atlantic University, published her paper on “Companion Cyborgs: Untethering Discourses About Wolf-Hybrids” in Environmental Communication.

Article Abstract: Wolf hybrids present a case study for deconstructing and critiquing how the nature/culture dualism permeates discourses about and constitutes human relationships with “wild” and “domestic” animals. In this essay, I conduct a critical textual analysis of three competing discourses about wolf hybrids: (1) wolf hybrid buyers and sellers determined to defend the animals as suitable pets for the “right owner”; (2) conservationists worried about preserving a pure stock of wild and/or endangered wolves; and (3) domestic animal advocates worried about individual wolf hybrids’ welfare in the hands of irresponsible owners. Despite legitimate ethical concerns about the “ownership” of canines, hybridized or otherwise, I posit that these discourses largely eschew complex ethical quandaries in favor of a simultaneous fetishization and fear of the “wild” wolf. The wild/domestic dualism discursively invoked for and against wolf hybrids constitutes an ahistorical eco-normativity that constructs wolf hybrids as both liminal and killable creatures. Wolf hybrids ultimately function as “companion cyborgs”: neither wild nor domestic canines, but rather liminal denizens of both sides of a nature/culture dualism ill-suited for wolfish dogs and doggish wolves.

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