Ali Shapiro — “P as t s”

Process Note

These erasures are from a series exploring the affordances and limitations of using non-human animals as a lens to understand human behavior, identity and relationships; the source texts are part of the midcentury discourse surrounding comparative psychology and radical behaviorism. This discourse, while dated, contains some of my favorite tensions: between pain and pleasure, reward and punishment, thinking and feeling, instinct and control. By erasing these texts, I aim to excavate their softer, sexier side—to reveal the messy essences still lurking beneath the “hard science” that claims to simplify our deepest drives and desires.


Ali Shapiro’s work has appeared in Gertrude, Popula, Prairie Schooner, The Offing, The Rumpus, and Electric Literature, among others. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan, and now teaches writing at the Stamps School of Art & Design.