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 →
“We’ve Made Meat for Everyone!”, by Samantha Hind

“We’ve Made Meat for Everyone!”, by Samantha Hind

Joseph D’Lacey begins his novel, Meat, with an implicitly vegan quote from The Bible’s Book of Genesis: “Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29” (p. i). In doing so, D’Lacey not only outlines the vegan ideal of Eden,[i] but he also lulls the reader into a warped sense of security; after reading this passage, you might not expect to find…continue reading →

Counting Animals in War, by Josh Milburn and Sara Van Goozen

Writing during the Bosnian War in October 1992, John F. Burns reports that only a single animal remained alive in Sarajevo’s zoo after the city had been under siege for four months: The scene in the animal house is wrenching. A putrid odor pervades the concrete building, and cage after cage is littered with the carcasses of lions, tigers, leopards and pumas. From the skeletal remains of some and the whole carcasses of others, it is clear that some died sooner than others, and that their surviving mates fed on the bodies before…continue reading →

The Dregs of Plastics: Doctor Who Season 12 and the Problem of its Environmentalist Message, by Ming Panha

The BBC Youtube channel uploaded the last part of “Orphan 55”, the third episode of Doctor Who Season 12, to explain, as they claim, why their fans called The Doctor “Space Greta Thunberg”. Of course, "Orphan 55" obviously is a warning for climate system failure, as the story reveals that the space resort constructed illegally upon an orphan planet (meaning a planet where the elite class leaves because of the collapse of life-sustaining environmental system) is actually the earth, in the future. The Dregs, “aliens” which roam the wasteland of the planet, are…continue reading →

The Poultry Suicide Club, by Daniel J Bowman

In 1895, the editor of the first ever automobile periodical in the English language—Horseless Age—argued that cars would liberate horses in what he called ‘the humanitarian aspect of the case.’ According to the editor—E. P. Ingersoll—the coming of a horseless age was actually in the interest of horses:  ‘To spare the obedient beast, that since the dawn of history has been man’s drudge, from further service at the industrial treadmill, will be a downright mercy.’[1] On what was to become of these liberated horses, however, Ingersoll makes no comment. The life of an…continue reading →

Beware the Category: Human, by Robert McKay

Robert McKay is Co-Director of the Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (ShARC). He is one of the performers/practice-researchers in Beware the Cat, a multimedia performance adaptation of William Baldwin’s 16th Century prose work using music, song, text-reading, signs and projected images. Centred on the grisly alchemical experiments of a rambling priest seeking to understand the language of cats, the story reflects on a question that has provoked humans across the ages: do birds and beasts have reason? The work is being performed as part of the Animal Movements conference at the University of…continue reading →
Brilliant Animals: John C. Lilly, Ken Russell, and Cold War Behaviourism, by Peter Sands

Brilliant Animals: John C. Lilly, Ken Russell, and Cold War Behaviourism, by Peter Sands

John C. Lilly is probably best known for inventing the sensory deprivation tank. Popularised in Ken Russell’s movie Altered States (1980), and more recently in Netflix’s Stranger Things (2016), Lilly’s tank was designed to suspend its subject in absolute darkness and without sensory input in order to discover new things about the human’s internal reality. In reference to Lilly’s own LSD-fuelled self-experiments in the tank, Russell’s protagonist, Dr. Edward Jessup, sets out to uncover the essential secrets of the human’s genetic memory under the influence of a hallucinatory drug. Floating inside the tank,…continue reading →

“The Fiendish Hound”: How The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) Makes Us Rethink About Our Co-existence with Nature, by Ming Panha

The present day is seen as catastrophic in almost every aspect: politics, culture, and even nature. Ecological awareness has become widespread as news reports about natural disasters appear daily, such as The Amazon forest fire, the discovery of microplastics in the ocean, and the increase of world temperature, evidenced by, for example, the death of salmon in Alaska and the invasion of polar bears in Russia. The images of pristine nature have been evoked in discourses about nature conservation, and yet this Edenic representation of nature has rendered nature subservient to human pleasure…continue reading →

Interrogating A Settler Feminist Co-Opting of the Indigenous Figure of Coyote in Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s The Cure for Death by Lightning (1996), by Alice Higgs

Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s bestselling 1996 novel The Cure for Death by Lightning has been hailed as a feminist bildungsroman, documenting a young girl named Beth Weeks’ journey into womanhood and the consequent male sexual violence that appears to follow her growing physical maturity. The novel is set on a remote farm location in British Columbia during the Second World War, and is littered with non-human animals, both wild and domestic. Despite the novel’s success, underlying the novel is a largely unexplored problematic co-opting of Indigenous stories and voices for settler-feminist literary purposes, which reflects…continue reading →
Fictional Constructions of “the Field” in Mary Sanders Pollock’s Storytelling Apes: Primatology Narratives Past and Future (2015), by Joe Mansfield

Fictional Constructions of “the Field” in Mary Sanders Pollock’s Storytelling Apes: Primatology Narratives Past and Future (2015), by Joe Mansfield

Published in 2015, Mary Sanders Pollock’s Storytelling Apes (2015) offers a comprehensive overview of modern primatology and the narrative strategies it created to best portray instances of non-human animal life. The book consists of a critical analysis of a selection of literary materials produced by a number of renowned primatologists including Jane Goodall, Sarah Hardy, and Diane Fossey, as well as the foundational literary traditions established by Charles Darwin. Drawing heavily from the conceptual approaches of figures like Donna Haraway, Pollock similarly offers science and scientific narratives to be social constructions forever inclined…continue reading →

Animal Remains (Sheffield, April 2019): A Report by Sarah Bezan

From April 29-30th 2019, ShARC was host to nearly ninety delegates and visitors from across the UK and abroad. The Animal Remains Conference, a biennial conference held jointly between ShARC and BIOSEC (a European Research Council-funded project under the administration of School of Politics Professor Rosaleen Duffy), explored how animal remains function in and beyond the realms of politics, literature, natural history, and aesthetics. As co-organizers, Robert McKay and I sought to open up the parameters of ‘animal remains’ to explore its murky underbelly and its multiplicitous associations across the interdisciplinary interstices of…continue reading →