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 →
Hate Speech and Animals, by Josh Milburn

Hate Speech and Animals, by Josh Milburn

Here in the UK, as in many liberal democracies, there are laws against hate speech. The Public Order Act of 1986, for example, makes it a criminal offence to publish or distribute ‘written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting’, when intending ‘thereby to stir up racial hatred’ or ‘having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby’. Across many states, laws protect people from speech targeting their racial or ethnic origin; sexuality, sex, or gender; disability status; and so on. No such law protects individuals targeted…continue reading →
Knights on Wheels: Chivalry and Horsepower in the American Ambulance Corps, by Daniel J Bowman

Knights on Wheels: Chivalry and Horsepower in the American Ambulance Corps, by Daniel J Bowman

The significance of the First World War in the United States’ transition from horse power to horsepower can hardly be overstated.  This had less to do with the incorporation of automobiles into the Army itself than the practical shortage of horses back home, combined with the devastating impact of modern warfare on the enduring image of the horse in the human psyche.  The heroic symbolism of the equine body in warfare found no reflection in the material reality of the horse on the modern, mechanised battlefield.  It is possible to witness the legacy…continue reading →

ShARC Reading Group: mid-year summary, by Charlotte O’Neill

As the current organiser of ShARC’s reading groups, I wanted to provide a summary of our activities so far this year, what we’ve been reading and what we’ve discussed. If you would like to receive regular updates and invites to our reading group, please email me at coneill2@sheffield.ac.uk to be added to our mailing list. If this post sparks your interest in hosting a future reading group, please also feel free to get in touch about doing so, it’s great fun! We kicked things off in November with a special session on What…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 →