June 16, 2014, by criticalmoment

Thinking with Animals Workshop

Tracey Potts and Eva Giraud are doing a workshop around Animal Studies this Friday (20th June, Trent B38a, 1:30-5pm). If you do want to attend, email Eva (Eva.Giraud@nottingham.ac.uk) and she will reply with some short readings. Here’s the description …

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my! : Thinking with Animals

The idea of thinking with animals has gained ground since Claude Levi Strauss’s provocation in Totemism ‘that natural species are chosen not because they are “good to eat” [bonnes à manger] but because they are “good to think” [bonnes à penser].’ (p. 89). The emerging field of Animal Studies evidences a growing scholarly interest in nonhuman animal life. Such interest moves beyond the idea of human-animal relations to encompass questions of co-constitution, co-evolution, biopower, ecology and cosmopolitics. More, in The Companion Species Manifesto, Donna Haraway urges that we extend the idea of thinking with animals toward those of cohabitation and ‘cross-species sociality’: ‘Dogs are not surrogates for theory; they are not here just to think with. They are here to live with.’ (5). The fundamental challenge of animal thinking, then, is one of derailing humanist and anthropocentric forms of inquiry and attempting to honour the fleshly complexity of human and nonhuman existence.

Taking up Haraway’s notion of a ‘menagerie of figurations’, the workshop will be organised around the idea of the BESTIARY: an illustrated collection of animal descriptions designed for didactic purposes, which gained popularity during the Middle Ages. The Aberdeen Bestiary, a 12th century illuminated manuscript, is one of the best-known examples and can be viewed here: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary/

The aim of the workshop is to begin to compile our own compendium of beasts – The Nottingham Bestiary. The session will begin with a series of rapid presentations (5 minutes each) designed to showcase animal scholarship at Nottingham.

We will then spend the second half of the workshop discussing a critical theory ‘book of beasts’, featuring extracts and short articles specially selected from the expanding field of Animal Studies.

Featured nonhuman animals include:








… and more to be confirmed!

We hope to see you there.

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