Tom Tyler, ‘Game: Animals, Video Games, and Humanity: Book Launch’, 20th October 2022
Timo Müller (University of Konstanz), ‘Animal Aesthetics of Early Automobility’, 17th October 2022
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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 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.
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
Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield); David Farrier (University of Edinburgh); Helen Tiffin (University of Wollongong)
Research Seminar series – Autumn 2016
Sune Borkfelt, ‘Sensing the Animal in Slaughterhouse Fictions’ Tuesday 15th November, 3pm. Firth Court, Room F02a
Read the abstract here.
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
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.
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.