This two-day interdisciplinary conference is designed to bring together those in the humanities whose work explores human-animal relations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In particular, it seeks to investigate the various, and often ambiguous, ways in which animals were consumed by humans symbolically and materially. Through various methods of consumption, typically characterised by exploitation and violence, human society and accepted definitions of what it means to be human, have nevertheless been fundamentally shaped by animals. Whether on the end of a gourmand’s fork or a whaler’s harpoon, on the lap of an aristocrat or by the side of a beggar, conjured as majestic and wild by the artist’s brush or as haggard and caged by the eyes of the menagerie visitor, in private homes and city streets, in the artistic or literary imagination, the bodies of animals (alive or dead) were ubiquitous during this period. Indeed, they provided both the fashionable feather and the faithful companion; they were, simultaneously, consumed, feared, defended, caged and loved. The minds of Georgians and Victorians were filled with treacherous tigers and devoted dogs with whom they forged complex relationships and encounters – and to whom they were much more than mere material bodies. We intend for this conference to draw together the diversity of research interests in animal studies across the White Rose network, and beyond. This could be the basis for future events within animal studies, which would establish the White Rose universities as a centre for animal research in the humanities.
Harriett Neal, York
Other student organisers
Sky Duthie, University of York Martha Cattell, University of York Lauren MaCarthy , University of Leeds