Programme

Please scroll down for abstracts and speaker biographies.

Friday 9th March

8 – 10.30pm Pre-registration gathering in the function room at the Imperial Pub. If you are arriving in Exeter on the Friday, come along for a drink and/or some food and to pre-register for the conference. You will receive your conference pack and can skip the registration queues the next morning.

Saturday 10th March

Please note: this timetable is provisional and changes may be made in the run-up to the conference.

Please scroll down for a list of abstracts.

8.15 – 8.45 Stallholders get-in and set up in Classrooms D, E, F

8.30 – 9 Arrival and Registration in Queen’s Building Reception

9.00 Welcome in LT2

9.30 Keynote address: Dr. Richard Ryder, in LT2 (video)

10.20 – 10.45 BREAK Tea & Coffee in the Café and a chance to visit the stalls!

10.45 – 11.45 SESSION 1

Animals in the Public Arena [chair: Mark Gold] LT2 (video)
1. Kim Stallwood: Animal Rights: Moral Crusade or Political Movement? 
2. Lee McConnell: Animals as Property - The Adequacy of Current Legal Protection 
Workshop: Research and Communication Tools for Activists and Academics [Jessica Groling and Kerry Burton] MR 1-3
This workshop will explore how the Freedom of Information Act (2000) can be used as a research tool and how to make the most of mainstream and alternative media. 

11.45 – 12 BREAK

Stalls in Classrooms D, E, F

12 – 1 SESSION 2

Conservation [chair: Dr. Nigel Pleasants] LT2 (video)
1. Nicole Schafer: Dismantling media-produced fear towards predators [ via skype ] . The film connected to this presentation will be shown during the lunch break. 
2. Livia Apostol: A critical approach to the study of prosocial donations for the conservation of animal species 
Workshop: Responding to the badger cull [Nikki Shaw and Alex Badman-King] MR 1-3

1 – 2.30 LUNCH in the Long Lounge, Devonshire House

Stalls in Classrooms D, E, F

A selection of short films:

Classroom F - “Kissing Stallions” by Livvy Daley (7mins). Repeated showings.

LT1 - “Making Amends” by Livvy Daley (11mins). Repeated showings.

LT2 - “Tangled Waters” (scroll down for more information). Screenings will be at 1, 1.30, and 2pm.

2.30 – 3.45 SESSION 3

Theoretical Perspectives [chair: Tereza Vandrovcová] LT2 (video)
1. Hannah Strommen: Biblical Animals: Returning to Genesis in the Wake of Jacques Derrida
2. Catherine Duxbury: The Other that therefore I am: Critical feminist perspectives on the 'natural'
3. Nathan Stephens-Griffin: Doing Critical Animal Studies Differently: Learning from Lorde
Textual Animals [chair: Louise Squire] LT1 (video)
1. Seán McCorry: The Political Aesthetics of Mid-Twentieth Century Farm Fictions
2. Gill Bliss: Animals with Attitude: Finding a Place for Animated Animals
3. Tina Hartmann: A Dog's Words: Animal Language and Animal Intelligence in Ethology and Literature 
Workshop/Discussion: Activism and Academia - Bridging the Gap [Daniel van Strien] MR 1-3

3.45 – 4 BREAK

Stalls in Classrooms D, E, F

4 – 5.15 SESSION 4

Speciesism, Environmentalism and Capitalism [chair: Nathan Stephens-Griffin] LT2 (video)
1. Christian Stache: The failures of metaphysical anti-speciesism and the benefits of historical materialistic Marxism for a social theory of animal liberation
2. Daniel van Strien: Capitalism, Marxism and the Animal-Industrial Complex
3. Oscar Horta: Disregarding Sentient Beings: Speciesism and Environmentalism
Animals, symbolism and visual culture [chair: Dr. Sam Hurn] LT1 (video)
1. Jingjing Zhao: Chinese Zodiac - Animal Images in Chinese Culture
2. Stuart Evans: From Fairytale to Road-kill: Animals in Art
3. Jane Flynn: Sense and sentimentality: a critical study of the influence of myth in portrayals of the soldier and horse during World War One
Workshop: Emotions or Evidence? Effective activism needs hearts and minds [Toni Vernelli and Sarah Batt] MR 1-3

5.15 – 5.30 BREAK Tea & Coffee in the Café

Stalls in Classrooms D, E, F

5.30 – 6.30 Closing Plenary LT2

Where do we go from here? A discussion…

Feedback from workshops.

Short presentation about Minding Animals 2.

6.30 Conference end

7.30 Dinner at Herbies Restaurant for those who have pre-booked a table

Click here for more information

8.30 – 11pm Fundraising gig in the NBI

Featuring ONSIND and SOME SORT OF THREAT, plus poetry. Lorraine Parker will be reading poetry on Animal Issues from her collection RETRO-FLEXION. A chance to socialise and relax after the conference. In aid of South Devon & Cornwall Hunt Saboteurs. Donations on the door.

Click here for more information

ABSTRACTS AND SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES

Kim Stallwood – Animal Rights: Moral Crusade or Political Movement? (video, full text)

Animal activists seek their objective of moral and legal rights for animals by promoting the adoption of personal choice cruelty-free, vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. This strategy is informed by personal transformative moments (PTM), which are individual, powerful situations when the veil of institutional animal exploitation is lifted. The transformation to an animal activist is profound. Animal rights becomes a moral crusade. The animal liberation objective which animal activists seek will be achieved, they believe, by creating similar situations for others to experience PTMs. These are moral shocks triggered by public educational campaigns (e.g., protests, information dissemination, publicity stunts). Thus, people become animal activists. It is naive to believe, however, that everyone will care about animals as deeply as animal activists do. Consequently, animal activists need to understand how society responds to change, particularly from social movements and, then, apply this insight into achieving animal rights. I draw from more than 35 years of personal commitment and professional involvement with the animal rights movement in the UK and US to make the case that animal activists must expand their worldview from activism to also include advocacy (e.g., law, public policy, lobbying, legislation). Further, seeing the animal rights movement as a social movement will help animal activists to understand social change. I propose five stages which successful social movements move through. As animal activists learn how to function as animal advocates we will advance the animal rights movement further along the five stages toward achieving our mission.

Kim Stallwood is an independent scholar, author and advisor on animal rights with more than 35 years of personal commitment and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost organisations in the UK and US (e.g., CIWF, BUAV, PETA, The Animals’ Agenda magazine, Animals and Society Institute, Institute for Animals and Social Justice, Minding Animals). He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse. He has been a vegan since 1976. Currently he is writing a book which explores key values in animal rights and what it means to care deeply about animals.

Lee McConnell - Animals as Property: The Adequacy of Current Legal Protection. (video, handout)

The current methods of legal protection for animals have been in development for around two hundred years, but the prevailing method of protection and all currently enforceable legislation is rooted in welfare, where animals are protected by virtue of their status as property rather than through the ascription of actual rights. This raises many questions about the validity of the legal rights movement, the capability of animals to possess such rights, and whether the current measures for protection are adequate.

By way of an introduction, the core domestic legal protections applicable to farm animals will be discussed briefly, with the intention of highlighting and critically discussing key issues for the benefit of a multidisciplinary audience. Having established these legal parameters, the debate between the conflicting opinions of animal advocates – those who submit that supposed improvements to animal welfare via legislative provisions are an effective means of bettering the lives of farm animals, and those who attest that welfare campaigns orchestrated under the current legal system are meaningless, bound by human/economic interests and fail to confront the main sources of animal suffering.

Illustrative examples will be drawn from our own domestic system, as well as other world legal systems in order to provide a measure of comparative analysis with systems that have made pioneering moves towards limited recognition of rights for some animals, as well as to highlight recurrent issues concerning customary husbandry practices, the economic motivations which may hinder or expedite legislative change, and the prosecutorial/sentencing systems generally.

I am a first year, full-time doctoral research student under the supervision of Professor Rhona Smith at Northumbria University. My current research is based broadly in international human rights and focuses on the interplay of bodies of international law and their application to non-state actors with specific reference to issues arising out of the conflict minerals situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Though largely unrelated to my current doctoral research, the subject remains a strong personal and academic interest and is something which I will no doubt continue to be involved with for the duration of my academic career.

Nicole Schafer - Dismantling media-produced fear toward predators (video)

Top predators like the shark were once revered as guardian deity – now they are demonized as terrorizing killers. While once respected and worshipped they are now considered to be the epitome of evil and malevolence. This transformation in our emotional response and perception is due in large part to the media. The media creates fear with their use of framing, images, and agendas. Fear is a motivating force and a compelling emotion used by the media to increase ratings and keep the reader/viewer interested. Predators are receiving negative publicity and it is impairing any conservation efforts launched on their behalf. A change in the media’s treatment of predators and a significant change in their audience’s expectations may be the only way to develop a more realistic and appropriate public attitude toward predators. This paper will explore this predicament by understanding what fear is, how it is created, and how it used by the media before suggesting solutions to increase honesty and facts in the media.

I have recently submitted my thesis for assessment. I am a master student at the University of Otago in the Centre for Science Communication department receiving a degree in Science and Natural History Filmmaking. I created a 25 minute film in coordination with my academic thesis as well as running a campaign to remove shark nets from NZ beaches. I have a B.S. in Zoology and another in Wildlife Science. I have spent many years researching, studying, and protecting the animals I share my home with. I have a soft spot for predators and with my thesis and film I hope I can improve their public relations.E.O. Wilson said it best. “We are not just afraid of predators, we are transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and fables and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness –survival. In a deeply tribal sense- we love our monsters.” Tangled Waters will be screened in the lunch break in Queens Classroom F.

Livia Apostol – A critical approach to the study of prosocial donations for the conservation of animal species (video)

Generally, animal protection and conservation organizations rely, for their activities, on the financial support of the public. Thus, it is essential for them to thoroughly know their sustainers, what defines and motivates them. Animal conservationists need to know who is more likely to support their cause, when and how to ask for help. But organizations don’t always have the necessary resources to find the answers to those questions, so it is important for them to look at the research carried out in the relevant domains. In recent decades, social psychologists have taken a special interest in the study of attitudes towards animals (AA). With the emerging and growing social movement of animal protection, welfare and conservation, researchers have tried to determine the factors contributing to the complex and often conflicting human-animal relationship. Attitudes are considered fundamental to this issue because they are known to significantly influence behavior. Even so, a link between AA and financially supporting species conservation hasn’t yet been established.

This paper revises the literature on people’s AA and includes empirical and descriptive studies, in the attempt at finding the most appropriate theoretical framework for the study of AA and their power to predict behavior. Considering that research in this area is rather scarce, we discuss a couple of studies from the related domains of prosocial donations and pro-environmentally oriented behaviors. We conclude that studies involving fundraising campaigns for animal conservation, should take into consideration the cognitive theories of attitudes and their relation to behavior. Also, for us to be able to more accurately explain donation behavior it’s important to include other social, economical and psychological factors that previously were proven to be related to it and that we consider to be possible predictors.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. At the moment, I am a PhD candidate in Psychology at the Doctoral School of Applied Cognitive Sciences at Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca. My research interests include social and cognitive psychology applied to human-animal interactions, ethology and the effects of human-animal interaction on human health; animal assisted therapy and activities. My doctoral dissertation investigates the psychological and contextual predictors of the donations people make for the conservation of endangered animal species.

Daniel van Strien - Capitalism, Marxism and the Animal Industrial Complex (video)

In my paper I aim to give some thoughts on the concept of an animal industrial complex which Twine (2012) has recently suggested may be of use as way of contextualising the interelations between different forms of animal use and capitalism. I aim to briefly give an outline
of what could be meant be the animal industrial complex and discuss the multiple levels at whicht this concept operates. I will then spend the majority of the paper outlining how I believe that the concept of
an animal industrial complex can theoretically benefit from the use of Marxist political economy. I will do this by attempting to periodise different forms of animal use and include some examples from my current dissertation research.

I am currently studying a Masters in Human Geography at Glasgow
University and writing my dissertation on Genetic Research in the 20th
Century.

Christian Stache - The failures of metaphysical anti-speciesism and the benefits of historical materialistic Marxism for a social theory of animal liberation (video)

Unfortunately, theorizing the relationship between humans and animals often begins with various forms of metaphysical anti-speciesism. This form of anti-speciesism is mainly based on theassumption that the exploitation and domination of animals in almost all societies throughout Western history is rooted in a discriminatory prejudice of the human species towards other animals. Peter Singer’s utilitarian ethics was the hotbed for bourgeois metaphysical anti-speciesism, whereas one can find an autonomist form of it in the leftwing, liberal current of the animal rights/liberation movement. Its theoretical foundations are elements of a vulgar post-structuralism. Although the ecological and the animal rights movements predominantly have considered Marxism at least as anti-ecological and disregarding the destruction of nature and the industrial killing of animals, the historical materialistic philosophy of Marx’s early works as well as his central economic work—Capital—prove the opposite. Confronting the anticommunist ideology, the works of Marx and Engels turn out to be the solid foundation for a historical specific critique of the violent and exploitative social relations that directly lead to the destruction of the majority of humans and nature, including animals. Considering the capitalist mode of production described by Marx in Capital it is not only possible to explain why it makes sense, in the logic of capital, to turn animals into commodities and to understand which role animals play in modern societies, but Marx and Engels also provide crucial hints why ideologies like speciesism exist in the so called civilized world and what functions they have. Finally, following their analysis it becomes clear why metaphysical anti-speciesism falls short of theorizing the problem and, as a consequence, of providing appropriate political answers. As I outlined I will define key elements of metaphysical anti-speciesism and explain why they are bourgeois ideologies. Then I am going to offer a different approach to understand the role of animals in our historical specific capitalist society drawing upon mainly Marx’ Capital and The German Ideology by Marx and Engels.

I have studied social and economic history, Latin American and gender studies at the University of Hamburg, Germany. My research interests are ecology and Marxism, animal rights theory and securitisation and global security politics with a focus on German military politics. Currently I am working on my PhD, which is based on a critique of the works of Donna Haraway, Ulrich Brand, Christoph Görg and Alain Lipietz and in which I attempt to demonstrate that the destruction of nature is an imperative intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production. I am a scholar of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung (RLS). I have been an animal liberation activists for many years. Additionally I am a member of the socialist party of Germany (DIE LINKE), a member of its executive board in the department of Hamburg and I have been working on various anti-war and peace issues.

Hannah Strommen - Biblical Animals: Returning to Genesis in the Wake of Jacques Derrida (video)

Is the Bible to blame for the predominant attitudes that serve to subjugate animal life in the name of human gain? According to many contemporary philosophers the answer to this question is ‘yes’. ‘The Bible’ is frequently held up as a stable point of blame, to be put on trial, hurriedly condemned and thereby rushed to marginal spaces of muted censure. Of course, no philosopher says exactly this: I will take the Bible to court and put it on trial for the killing and eating of millions of animals, for intensive farming, hunting, fur-production, pet-keeping, and other similar practices so commonplace in the Western world. Nonetheless, there is a prevalent, implicit assumption that at the very least the Bible is in part responsible for the current ideological underpinnings that justify animal suffering. We are often led to think, that ‘we’ in the West already know that this is what ‘the Bible’ ‘says’, or is ‘about’. The simultaneous, and I argue perilous, resistance to read or reflect on the very Biblical literature thought ‘blame-able’ signals a necessary call to turn our gaze to Biblical texts and their legacy. Responding to the question of the animal, in the wake of Jacques Derrida, we will pick up an intention left-over in his important work The Beast and the Sovereign, to say “a word about the Bible” (Beast and Sovereign, 2009, p. 343), with a glance at Genesis, and Noah, the man we all associate with animals. I argue that it is of the utmost importance that our turn to Noah and Genesis is inter-disciplinary; that we do not attempt burying the Bible ‘alive’ so to speak, thereby resisting to confront those biblical ghosts that still haunt Western intellectual thought and culture, however loudly the death of God is proclaimed.

I have recently started my Doctorate in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Glasgow (September 2011) on Critical Theories of the Animal in relation to Biblical literature. My background is BA English from the University of Sussex and MA in Critical Theory from the same university. My interests lie in close readings of Biblical texts that relate to the ‘animal’ and its relationship to human/divine, and situating these readings in dialogue with contemporary philosophy on the animal, especially the work of Jacques Derrida. I am interesting in this link between contemporary critical reflections on animal life and the Biblical literature that forms a huge part of Western culture in its intellectual and mythical legacy.

Catherine Duxbury - The Other that therefore I am: Critical feminist perspectives on the ‘natural’ (video)

It is now widely accepted that class, race and gender are social constructions shaped by social discourses and myths widely circulated in popular culture (Denzin and Lincoln 2002). However, despite the research undertaken on and about ‘nature’ in western society and the connection to the ‘self’, sociologists have rarely been interested in deconstructing ‘nature’ and animal symbolism, despite its overwhelming presence in our cultural imagination (Lerner and Kalof 1999). Nor have many been interested in interrogating the ideological foundations and unconscious imaginings of the ‘human’ and ‘animal’ discourse present in contemporary society. This research is an attempt to bridge the gap between ‘nature’ research and sociological enquiry. Through an exploratory qualitative analysis of media representations of ‘nature’ (with a focus on women and animals) and adolescent notions of the idea of ‘nature’, it is hoped that an examination of the dominant messages broadcast about animals and women (‘nature’) will reveal the multi-faceted face of ‘nature’ and how this aspect is both repressed and has been repressed in our very selves over time.
This involves critiquing historically and also, past and present notions of the social construction of ‘nature’. Explicitly locating the dialogue within the strong theoretical connections of ecofeminism and ‘nature’, but pointing out the weaknesses of the constructions of the self implicit in ecofeminist conceptions. In order to address these lacunae; poststructuralist inspired, unconscious theoretical paradigms will be used which underpin postfeminist thinking (Butler 1990, Kristeva 1982, Kristeva cited in Moi 1986, Beardsworth 2004, Irigaray 1992,Grosz 1990). For analytical purposes, I will group the theoretical observations under two major headings: ecofeminism and poststructuralist feminisms. These subcategories are but mere labels, as Moeckli and Braun (2005) emphasise; in reality feminist work on nature is much more complex and “cross-braiding” (ibid 2005:114). Thus, it is much more appropriate to see these approaches as interrelated and constructed as a shifting set of constellations that “exceed whatever typology is used to understand them” (ibid 2005:114).

I am a PhD student at the University of Essex going into my third year part time. I also teach at the local F.E. college both degree and BTEC courses with naughty teenagers! I love teaching and recently became a GTA at the University of Essex in the Sociology department. I have a BSc(hons) in Psychology from the University of Huddersfield and an MA in Sociology from the University of Essex. I have always been an animal lover and my dream since I was nine years old is to go and visit the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda. I have four cats (one feral!) and one 10 month old labradoodle who has shown me the true meaning of life! I am vegan and have been since I was 19 years old and vegetarian since I was 15. I love walking and taking off to ‘wild’ places! I am really excited about my research project and although it is hard in terms of pinning it down I love the fact I can explore the connection between being human and being animal.

Nathan Stephens-Griffin - Doing Critical Animal Studies Differently: Learning from Lorde (video)

As well as being an interdisciplinary and intersectional academic field of study, Critical Animal Studies (CAS) may increasingly be understood as the academic ‘wing’ of the active global struggle for animal liberation. It challenges received understandings of ‘academia’ as a supposedly benign, neutral and ‘rational’ space, necessarily impartial and distinct from ‘activism’. Indeed, the simple act of studying human-animal relations from a critical standpoint is a constant source of controversy and friction within mainstream academia. The hostile context in which CAS scholars and other vegan academics work can be a source of frustration, alienation and day-to-day misery. However, our ‘liminality’ could inadvertently represent a path to our empowerment.
In this paper I offer an alternative reading of two short essays by American poet and activist Audre Lorde, ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House’ (1979) and ‘Poetry Is Not A Luxury’ (1977). Lorde’s persuasive call for intersectional thinking transcends typical socio-political understandings of the term, that is, advocating a necessary sensitivity towards the interconnectedness of differing forms of oppression (such as race, class and gender). Lorde furthermore encourages a critique of prevailing ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions, and demands a commitment to escaping conceptual hegemony. Offering some examples from my own research, I suggest that there are many ways in which we can avoid or subvert the apparatus of our own oppression, specifically, via the use of non-traditional, performative, poetic and visual modes of representation within academic contexts. In short this paper wonders: how can we do CAS differently, how can we do it better?

Seán McCorry - The Political Aesthetics of Mid-Twentieth Century Farm Fictions (video)

Over the past several years, a small but growing literature has brought a sharper ethical and political focus to debates around literary pastoralism by foregrounding the destructive effects of agriculture in modernity and the enormous stakes involved for nonhuman animals. In this tradition, I aim to read mid-twentieth century literary representations of agriculture alongside the material practices of contemporary farming. Against a backdrop of agricultural intensification, mechanisation and the increasing manipulation of ‘meat animals’ in pursuit of greater yields, the literary farm of the 1940s and 1950s remained, for the most part, nostalgically attached to the image of the small, pre-industrial family farm. Looking especially at George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945), I will claim that post-war fiction tends to represent technology and mechanised agriculture as a threat to a traditional rural ideal. I will argue that, far from exemplifying a sustained ethical critique of intensive farming, the persistence of literary and filmic images of pre-industrial agrarian life in the post-war period constitutes a repression or disavowal of the realities of mid-century intensive farming and its impact on the nonhuman world.

Seán McCorry is a second-year PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield. His current research focuses on the literary and scientific culture of mid-twentieth century Britain, with a focus on representations of animals.

Jane Flynn - Sense and sentimentality: A critical study of the influence of myth in portrayals of the soldier and horse during World War One. (video)

Tied closely to traditional images of warfare and to British National Identity itself, the soldier’s horse came to inhabit a space between myth and reality, in which it was often imbued with allegorical meaning and symbolism far beyond the reality of its physical existence. The horse had many faces, but in its popular portrayal as the recipient of the soldier’s compassion and kindness, it provided consolation by inferring that such humanity would be afforded to the soldier himself. In effect, it became a means through which to portray the wider tensions and concerns of the British at war. It is testament to the power of this desire for reassurance, that these portrayals have tended to eclipse the real experience of soldier and horse, which was starkly at odds with these romantic portrayals.

Jane is in the second year of a PhD at the University of Derby where her research focuses on the mythologisation of the horse in modern British society. Her current project focuses on the horse’s portrayal during World War One, although she is also interested in its role in British society and as a figure of National Identity more generally. Her first degree was in English Literature and Theatre Studies (Leeds University). After a period spent living in Hong Kong she returned to the UK to study for a PGCE (York University) and more recently completed a Research Masters (Derby University). Jane has many interests, but her primary passion (some would say unhealthy obsession) is horses and, particularly, her own horse Toby.

Tina Hartmann - A Dog’s Words: Animal Language and Animal Intelligence in Ethology and Literature (video)

Relationship to animals is the crucial dialectics of mankind. Aristotle’s definition of man as the political animal with speech makes language the basic distinction. Respectively to understand animals’ language is mankind’s perpetual dream.
The talking animal is one of literature’s archetypes. Talking with an animal’s voice, the author becomes a stronger critic on humanity, as the animal stands for the defenceless heart of human nature. But the talking animal is both, dream and nightmare, as next to E.T.A. Hoffmanns dog Berganza, with his true romantic artist’s heart, sits a writing ape (Milo), displaying human follies.
Over centuries the gate to animals’ language and intelligence seemed to be dressage, leading to ‘Clever Hans’, chimpanzees using hand alphabet and talking parrots. Only for less than a century have we tried to understand animals’ own languages. While second generation ethologists like Erik Zimen and Eberhard Trumler focussed on supposedly “non degenerated” wolves and dingos, frequent research turned to the animal we have been talking with for at least 10.000 years: the dog.
Literature has for long shown the way, as Hoffmann, Ebner-Eschenbach, Twain, and especially Panizza and Kipling translated animal thinking and language, far from simple humanization. Through A Dog’s Words they articulated concepts of intelligence, ethology came to prove. Ethology and fiction blend in search for A Dog’s Words, as science is bound to tell stories to transfer data into a narration readable to other faculties.
So as literature is part of ethology, ethology becomes part of literature.

PD Dr. phil. Tina Hartmann – 1993-1999 she studied German Literature, Comparative Literary Studies and Art History at Tubingen and UKC, Canterbury.
1999-2002 PHD on “Goethe’s Music Theatre”, awarded with the thesis prize of the University of Tübingen in 2003. 2004-2011 followed her professorial dissertation (Habilitation) “Libretto – the Queen of Poetry”, which was accepted by the University of Jena.
“A Dog’ s Words” is going to be her next main research project with the intention to foster the dialogue of literature and natural sciences. A second project focuses on Castrati singers in fine art, fictional and non fictional texts. She also works as opera dramaturge and librettist, supported by several grants and currently at the states theatre of Karlsruhe.

Oscar Horta - Disregarding Sentient Beings: Speciesism and Environmentalism (video)

The ethics of antispeciesist animal activism defends the consideration of all sentient beings. Environmentalism, instead, claims that what we should consider are ecosystemic relations and other natural entities, even if they aren’t sentient. For this reason, it approves of sacrificing sentient beings if it benefits environmental balances.
This has significant consequences that are very harmful for nonhuman animals. A clear example of this is the politics of “culling” wild animals that are considered “invasive” or too populous, as encouraged by the Sierra Club and many other groups. Other examples include the support given to “natural” forms of hunting by Greenpeace or the campaign the WWF has ran for years to promote massive animal experimentation to test potentially environmentally harmful chemicals.
Environmentalism also disregards the interests of nonhuman animals when they are in need of help. Environmentalism advocates aiding some animals in nature only when they belong to certain (environmentally interesting) species. But when other animals are involved, they oppose helping them, often claiming that doing so wouldn’t be “natural” (even though intervention to cull or save certain animals is not “natural” either). Antispeciesists disagree with this. Note that, although many people have idyllic views of how nonhuman animals fare in nature, the fact is that they endure severe hardships and often suffer and die in situations in which it might be feasible to help them. Antispeciesist concern for individual animals favours helping them in these situations if doing so doesn’t cause some greater harm to others.
Note that environmentalists don’t favour the massive killing of humans for the sake of biocenotic or ecosystemic processes. Neither do they reject helping humans in need of aid in nature even if that’s not “natural”. But they assume a completely different perspective when nonhuman animals are affected. This is due to their speciesist viewpoint.

Oscar Horta teaches moral philosophy at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. He works in general in normative and applied ethics, but his main area of research has been, by far, animal ethics. In particular, he has worked on the criteria for moral consideration, equality and animals and the situation of animals in nature. He has been involved actively in the antispeciesist and vegan movement since the early 90s.

Jingjing Zhao - Chinese Zodiac-Animal Images in Chinese Culture (video)

Chinese Zodiac, which consists of twelve different animals——mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, is used to calculate the year in China. It was applied in ancient China and has a history of more than 1000 years. Chinese Zodiac relates a person with a specific animal according to the year he was born, thus attributing certain animal characters to him. Though there are different versions of myths and legends about the origin of the Zodiac, its emergence is most likely to be associated with the worship of animal images among the nomadic people in the northwest of ancient China, in other words, Totemism, which can be seen from the relationship between a person and the animal he belongs to. At the same time it also has distinct characters from agricultural culture in the area of Yangtze and Yellow River in ancient China. For example, half of the animals in the Zodiac are domesticated animals and have been playing an important part in ordinary people’s life. Thus the application of Chinese Zodiac in China reflects the intimate relationship between man and animal and also people’s understanding of this relationship. In my presentation, I will firstly give a brief introduction of Chinese Zodiac, and then proceed to give a more detailed account of it by analyzing the composition of the Zodiac, and at last try to demonstrate the relationship between man and animal as well as the important status of animal from the Zodiac perspective and a Chinese cultural context.

My name is Jingjing Zhao. I am a Chinese student from Glasgow University, studying an MA on Religion, Theology and Culture. I am interested in religion and cultural comparison.

Stuart Evans - From Fairytale to Road-kill: Animals in Art (video)

Discusses issues surrounding the exhibition he curated titled ‘We Spirited Creatures’; an exhibition of taxidermy and figurative ceramics, held at Aberystwyth Art Centre ceramic gallery from 29 October to 29 January 2012. The exhibition contains images of animals from collections held at Ceredigion Museum and the Ceramics Collection, School of Art, Aberystwyth University.
As art interventions go this was an ambitious attempt at putting across various ideas about human and animal relationships through art. Three artists came together to investigate how to communicate connections about what it means to be a human animal. By combining objects, sound and poetry they filled the gallery with ‘conversational pieces’ which question how people think about and use animals. Professor Moira Vincentelli comments about inviting artist to curate exhibitions,
‘The strategy is one that is used increasingly by museums and galleries to cast new light over existing collections and disrupts conventional classifications and styles of display’.
Stuart Evans, artist and designer explains, ‘We came together to explore the way in which humans and animals live together on this small planet. Our relationship with animals is one of shared needs and mutual coexistence. What emerged was a display of ‘suggested conversations’ between placed objects together with poems in Welsh and English and a series of choreographed sounds’.
Elin ap Hywel, is a poet and translator and used her skills as a writer to produce new works for the show. A decision was made not to include interpretive labels in the display. The only text to appear was Elin’s poems and single words floating on the glass of the display cases. Anna Evans, a sound artist produced an ongoing work titled, ‘The Creation’. This consisted of religious chanting, snippets of scientific theory, animal calls and Darwinian theory together with recorded personal reminiscence and experience from visitors to the exhibition.
What did we see in the show? The taxidermy was mainly from the local museum and produced by the Hutchings family of Aberystwyth during late Victorian period. Taxidermy was very popular at this time and the produce of this family is still sought after by collectors. Hutchings are considered to be works of the finest quality and show the animals in ‘attitude’. It raises issues about how people viewed animals at that time. By combining them with other objects questions are raised.
Pieces from the contemporary ceramics collection are combined with the taxidermy in each showcase.
Various themes are raised, such as the early representation of animals in cave painting, religious imagery through stories such as the Garden of Eden, Adam naming the Animals, Noah and the flood through to animals dressed as humans in fairy tales and mythological beasts in stories such as Beauty and the Beast.
Notions of animals ‘thinking’ are raised in object combinations such as the guardians of property and time where animals are shown alongside such items as old keys and clocks, suggesting that they have some recognition of the concept of ownership as well as the past, present and future.
Sexual issues are brought to the surface in the combination of ceramic dancing beasts in a Ruth Barret Danes half human, half animal piece and the classical fawn caressing a naked female combined with a fur stole and crocodile handbag. Both these accessories suggest the glamour of using animal skin to attract attention to the opposite sex during human courtship.
The use of animal skins and the presence of death in the display, shown explicitly in the photographs of road-kill and the print by Julian Meredith of a real barn owl, remind us of our own mortality. Whether we accept this inevitable destiny does not prevent us from continually searching for meaning in our lives. Looking and studying animals is a good way to ‘think’ and by doing this we hold a mirror up to our own lives.

I work at Ceredigion Museum as a display designer and also study at Aberystwyth University School of art part time.

Gill Bliss - Animals with Attitude: Finding a Place for Animated Animals (video)

The history of animation is interlaced with the use of anthropomorphism and zoomorphism as a device for creating popular characters and narratives. In the ‘post-modern’ critique of animal representation in art, there has been a largely negative debate surrounding anthropomorphism and the symbolic use of animal forms; echoing theories formulated for scientific studies in biosciences, social anthropology and social geography. How, then, can animation be understood as a relevant creative medium for investigating relationships between humans and non-human animals in the modern world?
The first section of the paper will review the work of independent animators and animation studios, with a view to identifying certain animal and anthropomorphic forms of character design and narration. These will be related to modern day discourses: explorations of animals with diverse taxonomy (such as insects and fish) ; animal lives within issues of ecology ( such as environmental destruction and habitat) ; human and non-human animal interactions ( such as companion animals). Throughout, links will be made to an understanding of human psychology (Winnicott, 1971; Langer, 1953); and the development of storytelling ( Boyd, 2009; Ingold, 1994 ).
Moving on, the role that animation has played in a present day discourse of ecological and socio-biological issues will be highlighted with reference to modern philosophical writing. (Harroway 1991; Zwicky 2003), In this way, the unique qualities that animation has as an expressive art form will be shown to be eminently suited to portraying the diversity of experiences that human and non-human animals share.

I have been a practicing artist for over thirty years, exhibiting sculpture, drawings and moving image (animation). The work explores relationships between human and animal forms as a means of expressing a curiosity and wonder for the diversity of living things. As a freelance model-maker for animation companies I worked on films and TV series such as ‘Chicken Run’, ‘Creature Comforts’, ‘Wallace and Grommit’ and ‘Timmy Time’. I have also been a part-time/visiting lecturer for Animation, Drawing and 3D Design Courses in HE and FE and undertaken residencies and community projects.At present I am undertaking PHD research at Loughborough University investigating animal imagery in animation.

FILMS

Tangled Waters by Nicole Schafer

The twenty-five minute film ‘Tangled Waters’ will exhibit how the small community of Dunedin, New Zealand brought an end to a forty-year practice. In 1967, Dunedin placed anti-shark nets off three beaches to protect beachgoers from the great white shark, which has remained elusive. Ratepayers came together and campaigned to not only save themselves $38,000 a year on council spending, but also to support their local marine wildlife. The film ‘Tangled Waters’ is an example of educating people on a current events news story without slanting the information or sensationalizing it. The film demonstrates a method of presenting predators in a factual frame while promoting their conservation efforts.