ShARC Blog

Welcome to the ShARC Blog! The Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (ShARC) is the home of animal studies at the University of Sheffield.  Sheffield has an unusually large number of scholars and students from different disciplines working on the broad theme of human-animal relations. The purpose of this blog is twofold: to provide a platform for some of the research we are undertaking; but also to offer our scholarly thoughts on all things animal studies – whether they be events, workshops, news stories, legal changes, movies, documentaries, and so on. The ShARC Blog…continue reading →

The Selkie and the Fur Trade: Eliza Keary’s ‘Little Seal-skin’, by John Miller

An 1889 article in Bow Bells articulated a common sentiment in the late nineteenth century: ‘There is nothing […] so luxurious as a fur garment [and] nothing quite so lovely as a sealskin.’ Sealskin’s pre-eminence in Victorian fashion was built on the bodies of northern fur seals, a species resident mainly in the North Pacific with the majority of the population concentrated in the Bering Strait. It was America’s purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 that made the remains of these creatures available to the European fur trade in unprecedented numbers: in…continue reading →

Muck Raking: Waste and Animality in Upton Sinclair, by Daniel Bowman

The year 1895 saw the publication of the first ever automobile periodical in the United States – The Horseless Age.  Appearing five years before U.S. horse populations peaked, it was made clear from the onset that the car was intended to be a ‘substitute’ for the horse.  As a statement from editor E. P. Ingersoll makes clear, however, it was not increased speed that was initially desired so much as increased sanitation.  If Henry Ford had asked people what they wanted they would probably have said cleaner horses.  In 1880, New York City…continue reading →

Sentientist Politics: A Theory of Global Inter-Species Justice (OUP, 2018) by Alasdair Cochrane

Alasdair Cochrane What are the political implications of animal sentience? Should the fact that many animals can suffer and experience joy affect how we do politics? And if so, how? Most states are in agreement that the sentience of animals means something politically. The vast majority of countries across the world possess animal welfare laws which mandate how sentient animals ought and ought not to be treated. Some states have gone even further than this: India, Brazil, Slovenia, Switzerland and Germany, for example, have added animal welfare provisions to their constitutions. France, Belgium…continue reading →

Edward Carpenter: A Nonhuman Bibliography, by Charlotte O’Neill

Charlotte O'Neill I will keep this preamble brief, as I was lucky to introduce this resource to the network at ShARC Tales, the wonderfully productive workshop we held in November. What follows is a bibliography which curates resources found in the Edward Carpenter Collection at Sheffield Archives. Carpenter (1844-1929), who lived just outside Sheffield, is remembered for his sexual radicalism and socialist poetry; this bibliography, however, uncovers his rich cache of writing related to the nonhuman animal. It traces Carpenter’s animal rights advocacy – from his vegetarianism to his outspoken opposition of vivisection…continue reading →

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Roy Andersson, Curzon Film World, 2015)

Bradley Savage (This article was originally published on ZooScope on 24 January 2016) A man dies whilst trying to open a bottle of wine. Shots of aquavit are handed out in a bar in exchange for kisses. A young couple lie together on a beach, accompanied by a dog. The owner of a delicatessen addresses the camera from the steps to his shop as his co-worker ridicules him from inside. These short, unrelated stories capture Roy Andersson’s 2014 film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence perfectly. A long title has become synonymous…continue reading →

Nature’s Nickelodeons: A Multispecies Sensorium, by Dr Sarah Bezan

The following is a post by Dr Sarah Bezan, who is a Newton International Fellow at Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (2018-2020). The post was originally published on Sarah's website. *** Nature’s Nickelodeons: A Multispecies Sensorium In her exegesis of the nature documentary, film studies scholar Anat Pick argues that David Attenborough’s “palatial rendering of nature” exemplifies an expansionist ethos. Principles of scale and scope, particularly in feature films produced by the BBC, frequently expand and shrink their subjects: a larval glowworm wriggles inside a translucent casing beneath a magnified lens, migrating flocks…continue reading →

What Difference Does it Make if Gove Recognises Animals as Sentient? by Elliott Woodhouse

The following is a guest post by Elliott Woodhouse, who is an independent researcher, and a member of ShARC. *** Michael Gove’s recent statement confirms that the British Government will continue to legally recognise the sentience (which Gove defines as the ability to feel pain and emotion) of nonhuman animals after withdrawing from the EU.[1] This comes after MPs voted down Green Party MP Caroline Lucas’s proposed amendment to recognise nonhuman animal sentience in the EU Withdrawal Bill. Michael Gove’s decision to keep the UK’s legal attitude towards nonhuman animals in line with…continue reading →

Bearing Witness to a Disappearing World: Poetry in a Time of Mass Extinction, by Dr Michael Malay

The following is a guest post by Dr Michael Malay, who is an Early Career Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Bristol, and a member of ShARC. *** Bearing Witness to a Disappearing World: Poetry in a Time of Mass Extinction In ‘Blacksmith Shop’, Czeslaw Milosz describes a childhood visit to the local smithy. He remembers the blacksmith standing above the anvil, hammering away at a piece of iron, and the incredible heat of the furnace. A group of horses stand outside, ready to be shod, while a collection of tools await repair:…continue reading →