• Harris, C. (Speaker)
  • Lilly Markaki (Organiser)
  • Lisa Moravec (Organiser)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Presentation: Conjuring Bambi: cuteness, incantation and reclamation in Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica

The aesthetic judgement of “cuteness” shapes many human interactions and involvements with animal others. Disneyfication or Bambification – and by extension “cuteness” – are recognised in disciplines including media theory, veterinary medicine, geography and animal studies. In Pascale Petit’s 2017 poetry collection Mama Amazonica, deer, and in particular fawns, recur in the narrative. Humans and deer in the poems are bound in intimate metaphorical relationships, where the literal and figurative worlds are co-dependent, entangled and frequently reversed. Deer are referenced in eight poems, showing themselves in the forest, in the kitchen, in the maternity ward, caught in the mesmerising gaze of an anaconda, in the simile “like a fawn who must be sacrificed” (71: 4.2). “Bandaged Bambi”, the first mention of a fawn, sets up this repeating motif. Sianne Ngai theorises the cute as a minor but important aesthetic category; cuteness is about powerlessness, consumption and commodity relationships. Ngai writes how the cute are both “lovingly molest[ed]” and themselves hold the possibility of aggression. While the animal others and animal selves in Mama Amazonica do not conform to the big-eyed, softly contoured strokeability associated with the form of “cuteness” in Disney films, they do, as this paper argues with reference to Ngai, relate to and unsettle these images. Where other critical approaches to Petit’s work have focused on biographical themes or her employment of indigenous South American mythologies, this paper examines the power and gender relationships in the other-than-human imagery of her poems. In so doing it identifies a schematic of exhortation, incantation and reclamation that runs through the collection.

The author will also present the poetic bookwork, Cut-out Bambi, which is a response to “Bandaged Bambi” and themes in her PhD research.
Period29 May 202030 May 2020
Event typeSeminar
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • bambi
  • cuteness
  • sianne ngai
  • pascale petit
  • invocation
  • poetics
  • aesthetics
  • deer