Upcoming Events

Pablo Magaña & Eze Paez (UPF): “A Democratic Argument for Animal Uplifting”, with a commentary by Alasdair Cochrane (Sheffield), January 30th

Date and time: January 30th, 2.00-3.30pm.
Venue: In-person in room G17 (Elmfield Building) and online here.
“In this paper, we argue that, should it become technologically feasible, we would have a pro tanto obligation to modify nonhuman animals’ capacities so that they can better participate in mass democratic politics (what we call animal political uplifting). As long as they lack political agency, we argue, animals are vulnerable to a large number of serious harms, derived from their inability to express their interests as they see them, self-organize, and hold their representatives accountable. Animal uplifting, we suggest, might protect them from these harms better than alternative proposals, such as designating special representatives for them. In addition, we argue that such a proposal can be derived from the most plausible reading of several influential accounts of cognitive enhancement. Finally, some objections are considered and found wanting.”

ShARC Ethics and Politics Monthly Seminar Series


Past Events 

Jeff Sebo, The Moral Circle, with commentary from Gary O’Brien, 6th December 2022

Venue: Room G20, Elmfield Building, The University of Sheffield and online via Google Meet
Date and Time: 6th December 2022, 2pm-3pm

ShARC Reading Group, 21st November 2022, 3-4pm 

Contact sjhind1@sheffield.ac.uk for details.

Troy Vettese, ‘We Need to Talk About Kielbasa: The Left’s Problem with Meat’, 8th November 2022

Venue: Alfred Denny Conference Room
Date and time: Tuesday 8th November, 4pm-5:30pm

There will be a social afterwards at Kommune of Church (tbc). There is no need to register for the event, so just turn up!

Troy is the co-author of a thought-provoking new book with Verso, Half-Earth Socialism, which was met with some derision by many fellow socialists for its arguments in favour of veganism. Troy’s paper sets out to respond to this critique by problematizing a traditionalist left’s uncritical embrace of meat-eating.

About the lecture:
One might think that vegetarianism or veganism are practices that belong to the left. Think of straight-edge vegan punks or the climate activists ladling out lentils at occupations. Yet, there is also a stream within the left that is vociferously opposed to veggie politics, despite the considerable ethical and environmental costs of meat. They are a certain kind of conservative communists that are wary of being too far from the mainstream. George Orwell excoriated sandal-wearing, queer vegetarians, and instead romanticized working-class colliers and practical-minded socialists like himself. Other sausage socialists include Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who believed that meat-eating was a crucial part of human evolution and our species exceptionalism (spawning a whole field of pseudo-scientific evolutionary biology over the last century). Moreover, they believed that meat—and with it, the domination of nature—constituted the good life that socialism would provide for all. Such communist carnivory represented a break in the history of the left, as utopian socialists were often vegan or vegetarian (such as Robert Owen, Percy Shelley, Amos Bronson Alcott, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Nor has meat consumption served socialists societies well, as the devastation wrought by factory farms in East Germany in the 1980s or present-day China attests. One would think that Marxists, who are capable of such insightful critique, would be more reflective of dietary habits that contribute so much to climate change and the Sixth Extinction. The left should be wary of carnivory, as its justification often rests on appeals to conservative reason: pseudo-scientific hierarchies, tradition, and power.

About Troy Vettese:
Troy Vettese is an environmental historian and a Max Weber fellow at the European University Institute in Fiesole. Half-Earth Socialism, co-authored with Drew Pendergrass, was published by Verso in April 2022.

Leigh Claire La Berge, ‘Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary’, 27th October 2022 (cancelled due to illness – check back for rescheduled date)

Venue: Diamond, LT8
Date and time: Thursday 27th October, 3:30pm-5pm

About Marx for Cats:
Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary argues that the history of Western capitalism can be told through the cat and that doing so reveals a heretofore unrecognized animality at the heart of Marx’s critique and of Western Marxist critique. That feline animality has been present in how Marxists have represented what constitutes the economy and imagined how the economy could be transformed from a site of exploitation into one of equality. From capitalism’s feudal pre-history to its contemporary moment of financialization, those seeking to maintain economic power as well as those seeking to challenge it have recruited cats into their efforts. Using a textual and visual archive that spans 800CE through the present, this book details how they did so. In offering a feline narrative of our economic past, it argues that Marxism not only has the potential to be an interspecies project but that it already is one. And in using that knowledge and those histories located in cat-form, the book suggests that we may collectively plot a new future together, one which recognizes the work that cats have always done for Marxists and one which wonders: what political commitments can Marxists make to cats?

About Leigh Claire La Begre:
Leigh Claire La Berge is a Professor of English at BMCC CUNY and a 2021-2023 Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Free University of Berlin. She is the author of numerous works of economically oriented criticism, including the books Scandals and Abstraction: Financial Fiction of the Long 1980s (Oxford: 2014) and Wages Against Artwork: Decommodified Labor and the Claims of Socially Engaged Art (Duke, 2019) as well as the co-editor of Reading Capitalist Realism (Iowa, 2014). Marx for Cats: A Radical Bestiary is forthcoming with Duke University Press in 2023. She is currently working on a book of essays with the provisional title “Occasional Marxism.”

Tom Tyler, ‘Game: Animals, Video Games, and Humanity: Book Launch’, 20th October 2022

Date and time: Thursday 20th October 2022, 6pm-8:30pm
Venue: National Videogame Museum, Sheffield
Talks from: Tom Tyler, Eva Giraud, and Peter Sands
There will be a social at Kommune, after the event. There is no need to register for the event, so just turn up! 
About Tom Tyler and Game:
Dr Tom Tyler is a Lecturer of Digital Culture at the University of Leeds. He undertakes research in three broad areas: the history of ideas, particularly different varieties of anthropocentric thought; animals, particularly their mistreatment both in theory and in practice; and videogames, particularly the values and roles that they offer players. 
“The word game can refer to a particular kind of animal (birds and mammals hunted for sport, such as ducks and deer); an activity (games people play, such as Monopoly and Pac-Man); or an attitude (when applied to those who are eager or willing, for instance to try something new). The thirteen essays which comprise this collection examine, then, how the animals encountered in videogames challenge the adventurous player to think differently about both. From Dung Beetles to Dog’s Life by way of Ridiculous FishingSuper Meat BoyTrojan Horse and a miscellany of other games, essays interrogate conventional thinking about winning and losing, vitality and vulnerability, virtuality, rumination, difficulty settings and more, and, as a result, reconsider the ways in which we can or should understand humanity.”

Timo Müller (University of Konstanz), ‘Animal Aesthetics of Early Automobility’, 17th October 2022

When: Monday 17th October, 16:30 UK time.
About Timo Müller:
Professor of American Studies at the University of Konstanz, Germany, Timo Müller was the recent recipient of an ERC Consolidator Grant for his project “Off the Road: The Environmental Aesthetics of Early Automobility.”
“In times of climate crisis, there is wide agreement that we need a more environmental approach to automobility. “Off the Road” addresses this challenge by highlighting a largely forgotten fact: that automobility was a thoroughly environmental experience before the current system of closed cars on concrete roads emerged. This environmental automobility was particularly widespread in the United States, where much driving occurred in off-road conditions well into the 1920s. Motorists navigated through mud, sand, and water, constantly exposed to the elements and acutely aware of their surroundings. Early automobility thus engendered unprecedented modes of relating to the environment—modes that have never been systematically researched.”
For more information, please visit https://offtheroad.org/

Katherine Ebury, ‘Animal Rights and Human Rights: A Law and Literature Approach to Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Adventure of Silver Blaze’ (1892) and ‘The Case of Mr George Edalji’ (1907)’, 21st September 2022

The talk is an in-person event, taking place in The Diamond, Lecture Theatre 8, on Wednesday 21st September, 3.30-5pm

Michael Lawrence, ‘Red Meat, Black Film: Beef, Crime and Desire in Film Noir’, 4th May 2022

ShARC, in partnership with SCRiF, are excited to welcome Michael Lawrence for his talk, ‘Red Meat, Black Film: Beef, Crime and Desire in Film Noir’.

The talk will take place on Wednesday 4th May 2022, 4:00-5:30pm in the Alfred Denny Conference Room, University of Sheffield. The event is free to attend and no registration is required. As well as Michael’s talk, there will also be a Q&A session with Michael, led by Bob McKay, so come prepared to ask questions!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Rescheduled: ShARC Tales, 12th – 13th May 2022

ShARC Tales 2

12th – 13th May 2022

University of Sheffield

We are excited to announce the second instalment of ShARC Tales (organised by the Sheffield Animal studies Research Centre – ShARC). 

The symposium will take place in-person* at the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield. There will also be an option for external participants to watch selected, live streamed presentations online. 

We encourage members of staff, PGR and PGT students at the University of Sheffield (or previous ShARCs) to submit proposals for 15-20 minute presentations in the field of Animal Studies. PGR and PGT students should showcase their projects and provide analysis of essential aspects of their research (this may focus on an idea for a project, an overview, or a specific chapter). Faculty members might present on a forthcoming publication in the field, or outline how their work in related fields engages with ideas about animals. Works-in-Progress, interdisciplinary projects, and submissions from PGTs, PGRs, and ECRs are especially welcomed.

The symposium includes two keynote speakers (tba), as well as two workshops: i) “What is a PhD?” aimed towards UG and PGT students and led by current ShARC PGRs, and ii) “What is a Postdoc?” aimed towards PGRs and led by current ShARC ECRs. 

Abstracts of up to 300 words for 15-20 minute presentations should be sent to sjhind1@sheffield.ac.uk with the subject “ShARC Tales abstract submission” by 14th February 2022. Participants will be notified by 4th March 2022.

Please indicate whether you would like your presentation to be live streamed. If you do not indicate either way, your presentation will be live streamed. 

*We will, of course, keep an eye on covid-19 rule developments, to determine whether the conference remains tenable to run in-person. If the situation changes, we will update all speakers and attendees.

We look forward to reading your abstracts!


Call for Papers: Blue Extinction, 7-8th July 2022

Aquatic species are threatened with extinction at an unprecedented rate due to the combined effects of overfishing, pollution, climate change, acidification, and other human impacts. Yet blue ecosystems have remained an overlooked and neglected subject of enquiry in animal studies, where the focus has tended to be on terrestrial – or green – habitats. The extinction of aquatic organisms poses particular perceptual, epistemological, and affective challenges: many of the species that are disappearing were never apparent, or known, to us in the first place. And those that we are aware of are often considered to be impossibly remote from, and alien to, human life, making it difficult to consider their lives grievable in a traditional sense. 

Recent work in the blue humanities has seen a growing emphasis on nonhuman life and multispecies ecologies (Alaimo; DeLoughrey; Neimanis; Shewry). In the field of extinction studies, there has also been an increasing focus on untold, unloved, and invisible lives (Bastian; Bird Rose; Heise; Van Dooren). Building on these approaches, this two-day symposium will examine the subject of aquatic biodiversity loss from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

It will ask: what kinds of narratives and modes of storytelling are best suited to the subject of blue extinction? What impact does the actuality of extinction have on ideas of literary representation and interpretation? What role might literary methods such as close reading play in helping us to imagine and come to terms with extinctions which occur largely out of sight (Bastian)? Can an awareness of blue extinction foster new affective and ethical relations with forms of life that are often considered to be monstrous or alien (Helmreich)? Might an attentiveness to past marine extinctions, and their cultural representations, be useful to us in our present age of biodiversity loss? And can collaborations between the humanities and the sciences yield new perspectives on blue extinction along with ways to combat it? 

Possible topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

– Literary and artistic representations of marine life / marine biodiversity loss

– Blue extinction and questions of form and method (e.g. aesthetic, material, biological)

– Changing oceanic environments and human extinction 

– Past extinctions: remains and material traces; fossils, museum collections, archives

– The future of blue extinction: predicted extinctions, imagined alternatives

– Marine life in ‘the Oceanic South’ (Samuelson and Lavery)

– World-Systems approaches to blue extinction

– Connections between oceanic degradation and colonial violence

– Queer, feminist, and trans-inclusive approaches to aquatic biodiversity

– Black and Indigenous perspectives on aquatic life

– Aquatic life, resilience, and survival

– Aquatic biodiversity and apocalyptic narratives (e.g. the ‘jellypocalypse’)

– The (in)visibility of blue extinctions

– The impact of extinction on coastal environments and communities

Abstracts of up to 350 words should be sent to Rachel Murray and Vera Fibisan at blueextinction22@gmail.com by the 4th of February 2022. Participants will be notified by the 28th of February 2022. We particularly welcome abstracts from PGRs, ECRs and researchers from underrepresented backgrounds. 

The symposium will take place online and in-person at the University of Sheffield and participants can choose their mode of attendance. Registration fees will only apply to in-person delegates. The intended outcome of this symposium is an edited collection entitled ‘Blue Extinction’, which will be considered for publication in the Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature series.

André Krebber, 19th October 2021

Tuesday 19th October 2021, 14:00 – 15:00 BST

The Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (ShARC) is proud to present a virtual presentation, followed by a short Q&A, with André Krebber, University of Kassel.

Registration is Free. See Eventbrite for registration.

Dr Krebber’s presentation is entitled ‘Zoological Decolonizations of the European Subject.’ You can read the abstract below:

The term colonization can be considered in both a narrow meaning, as the violent European imperialist movement of early modern times, or a broad, somewhat figurative meaning, as the proliferous infiltration and overtaking of certain structures by others – political, emotional, or epistemological. Both, of course, are closely related. Part of the project of colonization, reflected from its early days right up into the 19th century by the great explorative missions, was the classification of the natural world. As much as this endeavor was concerned with the discovery and apprehension of what was new to the European eyes, as much was it implicated in the domestication and oppression of the colonized spaces.

These natural worlds and especially their animals, from the Americas to Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, were not, as often suggested, unknown of course, if unknown to Europeans. Yet instead of integrating with local cosmologies, these missions adapted the fauna to their specific ways of ordering the world. Thereby, both animals and plants were made recognizable for and to the structures of production and governance the Europeans had brought with them, and thus appropriable, sometimes more although more often less successfully.

In this paper, I want to bring the challenge of decolonization back home to Europe. I will argue that the European subject itself is colonized by the same intellectual structures that the European “age of exploration” exported into the world, and that the European subject requires decolonization from them in the struggle to restructure our relationship to the world. By way of a confrontation with the encounters of the European explorers with the flora in the new locales I finally show, how such decolonization becomes enacted in confrontation with animals specifically. Thus, the struggle for decolonization becomes reversed, by emancipating the European subject from itself through the cosmologies that Europeans colonized in the first place.

Half-Day event, 28th April 2020 (cancelled due to covid-19)

ShARC are delighted to announce a half-day event featuring three speakers next April.

There will be talks from: Siobhan O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales and host of the amazing Knowing Animals podcast; Angela Martin, political philosopher and PRIMA-Grant researcher at the University of Basel; and Robert Garner, professor of political theory (specialising in animal rights) at the University of Leicester.

Dolly Jørgensen, 21st April 2020 (cancelled due to covid-19)

ShARC will be hosting a talk from environmental historian Dolly Jørgensen, Professor of History at the University of Stavanger.


More information to follow.

Animal Remains, 29-30 April 2019

Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield

Keynote Speakers:

Lucinda Cole, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Thom van Dooren, The University of Sydney, Australia

Artist in Residence:

Steve Baker, The University of Central Lancashire, UK

This conference was generously supported by BIOSEC and the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities

You can read Sarah Bezan’s report on Animal Remains here.

Diane Morgan, 27th March 2019

ShARC hosted a fantastic talk by Diane Morgan (University of Leeds), who deliverted a paper entitled, ‘If only Immanuel Kant had had a dog!’.

Generally philosophers have not been good on animals. Immanuel Kant is no exception to the rule, which is maybe disappointing. In Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, Elizabeth Costello says that she for one “expected better” from him. Why? In what ways does his limited reading of human/animal relations betray potentialities inscribed within his own philosophical project? What avenues of thought might have been opened up by a more adventurous exploration of the nature and capacities of nonhuman animals?

In case the very sight of the name KANT puts you right off, I hasten to reassure you that this paper does not intend to focus solely on his philosophy. It is not just interested in “proving” that he could have thought differently about what we call “animals” (maybe with the aim of ultimately “saving” him? Who cares apart from me and a few others?!) It also wishes to ask a wider question, namely: given our investment in the dynamically interdisciplinary field of “Animal Studies” with its most needed engagement with environment issues, what meaning can historic texts have for us now if they necessarily did not face the same ecological urgency as us? If we grant the absolute centrality of the pressing topic of climate change for us today, what can they possibly say to us about who we are, or should be, in relation to others and where we are heading?

Laura D. Gelfand, 5th March 2019

ShARC were delighted to host Laura D. Gelfand (Fulbright Research Fellow 2018-19, Department of the History of Art, University of York / Professor of Art History, Utah State University) for a talk entitled ‘From she-wolf to hoary heathstepper and beyond: Inventing and representing the big bad wolf.’

In Scotland, plans for the controlled release of wolves into a fenced-off private estate still face strong resistance, while in the U.S., the Trump administration is attempting to strip protections from endangered grey wolves to facilitate trophy hunting. Today’s antipathy toward wolves has a long history, but the animal hasn’t always been hated. Many ancient cultures both feared and admired the wolf, associating it with their most important deities. However, by the Early Middle Ages the wolf was transformed into a palimpsest onto which a dense network of terrifying signs was inscribed. Anglo-Saxon poems describe the wolf as a hoary heathstepper, a monstrous creature embodying the worst aspects of humankind, and exiled outlaws were condemned to bear a wolf’s-head (caput lupinum), indicating that both man and beast could be killed on sight. Analysing medieval and Early Modern visual and textual representations, this paper explores how, when, and why the wolf has been demonized so effectively.

ShARC Tales, 8-9 November 2018

The inaugural ShARC Tales Workshop was a two-day programme that took place at the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th November 2018.

The programme included a public keynote from Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine, Claire Jean Kim (author of the award-winning book, Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age) and a special roundtable presentation from Siobhan O’Sullivan, Visiting Fellow at ShARC and Senior Lecturer in Political Science at The University of New South Wales.

The aim of the workshop was to foster a stronger core network of animal studies students and researchers at The University of Sheffield that allows for interdisciplinary collaborations and a cross-pollination of ideas between faculties and departments.

The event was organised by ShARC and supported by the BIOSEC Project.

ShARC were delighted to hear a talk by Dr Helen Cowie (History, University of York), ‘Doing a Roaring Trade’: Lion Taming in Nineteenth-Century Britain:

In January 1850, tragedy struck at Wombwell’s menagerie when the female lion tamer, Ellen Bright was killed by a tiger at Chatham in Kent. Ellen, who was only seventeen, had been performing in a cage with a lion and a tiger. She was coming to the end of her act when the tiger pounced on her, ‘seizing her furiously by the neck’ and sinking its teeth into her throat. Though two surgeons tried to revive the stricken woman, her injuries proved fatal, and she died at the scene. One of the surgeons stated that she had suffered ‘a very large wound under the chin, which, aided by the shock her system had sustained, produced death’.

The violent end of Ellen Bright received widespread coverage in the contemporary press and generated a national outcry against the use of female tamers in menageries. Popularly known as ‘Lion Queens’, female performers had become fashionable in contemporary animal shows, titillating the public with daring feats and risqué costumes. They attracted large audiences, but also sharp criticism from certain sectors of the press, which condemned lion taming as a reckless and voyeuristic pursuit.

Focusing on Ellen and three other famous lion tamers, this paper examines the evolution of wild animal acts in 19th-century Britain and assesses their wider social significance. Why did people go to watch lion taming performances? What were the emotional dynamics of the wild beast act, and did female and non-European lion tamers challenge or perpetuate existing stereotypes of women and colonial subjects in Victorian culture? I situate Ellen’s untimely death within a wider debate about wild beast performances, which were viewed by some contemporaries as sensational, morally suspect, and potentially exploitative of both humans and animals.

We were thoroughly delighted to welcome Dr Jonathan Skinner to deliver a talk on ‘Ethno Plunderphonics: On Some Mockingbird Transcriptions’.
Jonathan is Associate Professor at the University of Warwick and teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program. His interests include Contemporary Poetry and Poetics; Ecocriticism and Environmental Studies; Ethnopoetics; Sound Studies; Critical Theory; and Translation. He is founder and editor of ecopoetics, a journal which features creative-critical intersections between writing and ecology.
Curious listeners may be interested in consulting his SoundCloud page further: https://soundcloud.com/ecopoetics
Northern Animals

Dinesh Wadiwel Image

We were delighted to welcome the University of Sydney’s Dinesh Wadiwel to Sheffield to deliver a talk on ‘Pro-Animal Politics – Do We Need a Concept of Ideology?’

The seminar tok place at 10am on Thursday, 2nd February 2017 in Art Tower, Room AT-LT05.

An abstract of the talk can be found here.

Reading Group: Dinesh Wadiwel’s The War Against Animals.

In The War Against Animals, Dinesh Wadiwel draws on critical political theory to provide a provocative account of how our mainstay relationships with animals are founded upon systemic hostility and bio-political sovereign violence.

The reading group took place from 3pm on Tuesday, 6th December at 9 Mappin Street, 9MS-G14.
29th Nov Jill Atkins Extinction

Jill Atkins, ‘Building an ark of emancipatory extinction prevention mechanisms of accounting and accountability’

Tuesday 29th November, 3pm. Diamond Building, DIA-WR1

Read the abstract here.

Conferences – Autumn 2016

British Animal Studies Network presents:

18th and 19th November 2016

Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield

Plenary speakers:
Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield); David Farrier (University of Edinburgh); Helen Tiffin (University of Wollongong)

Research Seminar series – Autumn 2016

Sune Nov 15 Presentation

Sune Borkfelt, ‘Sensing the Animal in Slaughterhouse Fictions’ Tuesday 15th November, 3pm. Firth Court, Room F02a

Read the abstract here.

bee poster final

Susan McHugh, ‘Honeybee Fictions and Indigenous Frictions’, Tuesday October 18th, 3pm. Hicks Building, Seminar Room F30

Audio available to listen to online here.

Research Seminar series – Spring 2016

rohman finished

mara poster final

krithika poster final

Barry Hines poster final

PALS poster finished

alasdair sharc poster final

lawrence post finished


goths poster correct and final

carol adams poster final

anat why look final crop

Research Seminar series – Spring 2014-15

An archived program of our Spring 2014-15 seminar series can be found here.

16th March, 5.15-6.30pm. Richard Roberts Building, B79.
Tom Tyler (Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Oxford Brookes)
“Being Prey: Endless Runner”
Jointly hosted by Sheffield Centre for Visual Studies and Videogames Reading Group

1st April, 4-5.30pm, Jessop West, Seminar Room 8
Rosaleen Duffy (Politics, SOAS) and Siobhan O’Sullivan (Politics, UNSW)
Rosaleen Duffy, “Responsibility to protect? Ecocide, interventionism and saving biodiversity”
Siobhan O’Sullivan, “Who’s looking at what? The politics and ethics of drones in animal activism”

15th April, 5.30-6.30pm, Humanities Research Institute (HRI)
Megan Cavell (Medieval Studies, Durham University)
“The Habits and Habitats of Old English Riddle-Animals”
Jointly hosted by Sheffield Medieval and Ancient Research Seminar

29th April, 5.15-6.30pm, Richard Roberts Building, B79
Naomi Sykes (Zooarchaeology, University of Nottingham)
“Human-animal studies in archaeology: views from the past, perspectives on the present”

5th May Day symposium, Jessop West Exhibition Space
Umberto Albarella (Zooarchaeology, Sheffield) and Angelos Hadjikoumis
“Humans, livestock and their landscape: past, present and future”

6th May, 4.30-5.30pm, Richard Roberts Building, A87
David Herman (Literature, Durham University)
“Storytelling beyond the Human: Modelling Animal Experiences in Narrative Worlds”
Jointly hosted with School of English Research Seminar

20th May, 4.30-5.30pm, Humanities Research Institute (HRI) seminar rooms
Lourdes Orozco (Theatre & Performance, University of Leeds)
“Thinking about the Posthuman Actor: Animals in Performance Practices”
Jointly hosted with School of English Research Seminar

Reading and Discussion Group – Spring 2014-15

An archive of our 2014-15 reading group is online here.

Reading Animals

A major international English Studies conference focused on literary animal studies, Reading Animals took place at the University of Sheffield on 17th – 20th July, 2014.

Keynote speakers at the conference were Tom Tyler, Erica Fudge, Laura Brown, Kevin Hutchings, Diana Donald, Cary Wolfe, and Susan McHugh.

An archive of the conference program and abstracts is available here: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/english/animal/readinganimals

Click here for a Storify archive of tweets from the conference.

Animal Machines: Animals and/as Technologies

Hosted at the University of Sheffield on 18th October, 2013, Animal Machines was a one-day interdisciplinary symposium to examine the interrelations of animals and technology, featuring contributions from literature, film, the social sciences, and information studies.

The pervasive association of animality and technicity is not only an ontological question but also structures various material and representational practices. Western philosophy has long struggled with this relation, particularly in the aftermath of Descartes’ famous assertion of the mechanistic essence of animality. The ethical and political dimensions of these ontological questions are brought into focus in concrete ways through the lived experience of both humans and nonhuman animals in their everyday embodied interaction with technologies.


Anat Pick, Seán McCorry, Fabienne Collignon, Clara Mancini, Richard Twine, Robert McKay, John Miller, Matthew Cole, Emily Thew.

An archive of the symposium is available here.

The Animal Gaze Returned

The Animal Gaze returned was a major exhibition of contemporary animal-themed artworks, hosted at the Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery, Sheffield Hallam University, 2nd August – 2nd September, 2013.

You can view the photostream of the “The Animal Gaze Returned” exhibition here.

When you are caught in The Animal Gaze Returned, you will find that the fascination of animal worlds poses conceptual and ethical challenges to human priorities. Artists in this exhibition question the way humans look at animals, how animals return that look, and how this shapes human interactions with them; how people connect, and often don’t connect, with other beings.

In The Animal Gaze Returned, contemporary artists extend and complicate traditions in Fine Art by representing animals as more than objects of decoration or status. They use strategies that usurp conventions of anthropomorphic symbolism to recognize that animals’ visual presence – and ability to look – shape and are shaped by a wide variety of media, from painting, video and photography to sculpture and performance.

Suky Best, Olivier Richon, Andrea Roe, Bob and Roberta Smith, Rosemarie McGoldrick, Darren Harvey-Regan, Steve Baker, Lucy Powell, Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson, Ian Brown, Aurelia Mihai, Greta Alfaro, Cartwright & Jordan, Kathy High and Edwina Ashton.
Information on the artists and their work.

Chloë Brown, artist, senior lecturer in Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University,
Rosie McGoldrick, artist, senior lecturer in Fine Art at The CASS, London Metropolitan University and Dr. Robert McKay, writer and lecturer in English Literature at University of Sheffield.

An Animal Space

The exhibition An Animal Space took place in the Jessop West Building foyer at University of Sheffield from 2 August to 30 August. It displayed the early results of an ongoing collaboration between Chloë Brown and Robert McKay (curators of The Animal Gaze Returned), which brings the methods of contemporary art practice and literary criticism into conversation to reflect on human fascination by and use of other animals.

The exhibition combined sculpture, drawing and text and explores the connections, real and imaginary, between the photographic, material and textual traces of those animals who undertook early space flights, and the representation of such animals in postwar literary fiction. The works respond with empathy and playfulness to this history of dogs, spiders, mice and monkeys as astronauts (animalnauts?) and leave the viewer wondering — what flights of imagination are necessary to truly encounter animals in space? Also displayed as part of the exhibition, An Illustrated Theriography comprises high quality reproductions of jacket designs, illustrative quotations and exploratory annotations; it offers a visual record of the animal worlds presented in some of the most unusual and imaginative postwar literature.

A photostream archive of the exhibition is online here.