DIGITAL ANIMALITIES explores how ubiquitous media are changing the meanings and possibilities of human-animal relations.

 
 

Animals powerfully symbolize what humans value, accept, exclude, or fear in themselves and in the world. New visual and digital technologies vastly multiply the production, circulation and acquisition of animal images. The current proliferation and re-con-figuration of the animal occurs in the context of a global visual culture that relies on images of animals to signify, promote, destabilize and secure its political, cultural, and natural landscapes.  Behind the surfaces of this imagery, landscapes are changing and animals are disappearing. A culture in which animals and environments are as precarious as their meanings inspires a range of expressive strategies through which images negotiate risk. The symbolic proliferation of animals reconciles contradictory needs and desires in a mediated environment offering uncertainty together with powerful incitements to connect, participate, and enjoy.

 
 

 

THE TEAM

 
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Jody Berland is a Professor in the Department of Humanities at York University. She has published widely on cultural studies, Canadian culture and communication theory, and more. 

Professor Berland's research focuses on the cultural and technical mediation of music, culture, nature, and space. She is a Visiting Professor in the Centre for Human Animal Relations at Edge Hill University, 2017-2020, and Research Fellow in the Department of Film and Media, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2016-2017.

She is presently completing a book entitled "Virtual Menageries in network Cultures" which concerns the organization of animal representation in visual, sonic and digital culture. This research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

She is the co-editor of Theory Rules: Art as Theory/Theory and Art (1996); Cultural Capital: A Reader on Modernist Legacies, State Institutions and the Value(s) of Art (2000); and editor of Topia: A Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies (www.yorku.ca/topia). Her book North of Empire: Essays on the Cultural Technologies of Space (2009) explores changing relations between nation, technology, nature and culture in Canada, and addresses spatial themes in writing, landscapes, borders, music and radio, pianos, the weather, techno-evolution, and other cultural expressions. Professor Berland was awarded the Association for Canadian Studies 2009 Award of Merit.

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View Jody's Profile On York University's Website

Etienne Benson

Etienne Benson is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. 

His research bridges animal history, environmental history, and the history of science and technology, with a focus on the histories of ecology, environmentalism, and human-animal relations in the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is the author of Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife as well as articles and book chapters on urban squirrels, birds and power lines, endangered species research, ecological simulation, environmental surveillance, and other topics.

View Etienne's Profile on the University of Pennsylvania's Website

Giovanni Aloi is an art historian in modern and contemporary art. He studied History of Art and Art Practice in Milan. 

He moved to London in 1997 to further his studies at Goldsmiths University where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Art History, a Master in Visual Cultures, and a Doctorate on the subject of natural history in contemporary art. Giovanni currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York and London, and Tate Galleries. He has curated art projects involving photography and the moving image, is a BBC TV and radio contributor, and his work has been translated in Chinese, French, Russian, Polish, and Spanish. His first book titled Art & Animals was published in 2011 and since 2006 he is the Editor in Chief of Antennae, the Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.

View Giovanni's Profile on the School of Art Institute Chicago's Website

Tom Tyler

Tom Tyler is a lecturer in Digital Culture in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds, UK.

His research addresses the use of animals, and the expression of anthropocentric assumptions, within the history of ideas and popular culture. He has written on horses and hands, anthropomorphism and anthroponormativity, the human chimpanzee, Nietzsche’s epistemology, Aesop’s animals, medieval monsters and bestiaries, Jekyll and Hyde, Foucault’s deviants, rules of thumb, McLuhan’s media probes, video games, digital dogs, virtual boar, misanthropic viruses and satirical cows, amongst much else. He is the editor of Animal Beings (Parallax, 2006), the co-editor of Animal Encounters (Brill, 2009), and the author of CIFERAE: A Bestiary in Five Fingers (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).

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Matthew Brower is the Director of the Museum Studies Program in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. 

He curates contemporary art and photography and writes on historical and contemporary visual culture with a particular interest in animal representation. He is the author of Developing Animals: Early American Wildlife Photography (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) as well as many articles, book chapters, and catalogue essays. He has co-curated several exhibitions that explore significant issues in contemporary art practice including: Suzy Lake: Political Poetics (University of Toronto Art Centre, 2010), Collective Identity│Occupied Spaces (UTAC and Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 2012), Mediated Memory (6th Beijing International Art Biennale, National Art Museum of China, 2015), and Yonder (Koffler Art Gallery 2016).

View Matthew's Profile on the University of Toronto's Website

Thomas Lamarre teaches in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. 

His research centers on the history of media, thought, and material culture. He has written on communication networks in 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan 2000); silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen, 2005); animation technologies (The Anime Machine, 2009) and infrastructure ecologies (The Anime Ecology, forthcoming 2017). He is co-editor with Takayuki Tatsumi of a book series with the University of Minnesota Press entitled Parallel Futures, which centers on Japanese speculative fiction.

His research on animation addresses the use of animals in the formation of media networks associated with colonialism and extraterritorial empire, and the consequent politics of animism and speciesism.

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Robert Mckay analyses the way novelists and film-makers have responded to the unjust relations between the species as aesthetic problems as well as political ones. 

He is currently working on two books. The first of these is called Animal Form: Contemporary Fiction and the Politics of Species. It focuses on the period from 1970 to the present and especially on the work of Margaret Atwood, J.M. Coetzee, Michel Faber, Deborah Levy and Alice Walker. In the other project he looks at how the literature, film and culture of the post-war period, complicates and exceeds the understanding of animals’ value in public animal welfare humanitarianism. He is studying figures such as James Agee, Arthur Miller, John Huston, Romain Gary, Peter Viertel, Patricia Highsmith, Brigid Brophy, Walker Hamilton and others.

More broadly, he is interested in the representations of animals in culture and is active in the research field of animal studies. In 2006 his co-written book (with the Animal Studies Group) Killing Animals was published by University of Illinois Press. In 2000 he co-organised Millennial Animals: Theorising and Understanding the Importance of Animals, a conference here at Sheffield that was cited (by Cary Wolfe in PMLA) as groundbreaking in the field. He has co-curated exhibitions of contemporary art addressing animal issues and he also co-organised the Reading Animals conference at Sheffield in 2014.

He is the series co-editor of Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature, Associate Editor (Literature) for Society and Animals (Brill). He has contributed review essays to Society and Animals, Modern Fiction Studies, and Safundi and acted as an editorial reviewer for Humanimalia, Parallax, Mosaic, PMLA, Society and Animals, Anthem Press and Columbia University Press.

He is also a founding member of the Sheffield Animals Research Colloquium.

View Robert's Profile on the University of Sheffield's Website

Claire Molloy Parkinson is Professor of Film, Television and Digital Media and Director of the Centre for Human Animal Studies (CfHAS) at Edge Hill University. 

Her research interests focus on animals and popular culture and film and politics. Her publications include the books Memento, Popular Media and Animals, Beyond Human: From Animality to Transhumanism, American Independent Cinema: indie, indiewood and beyond, and The Routledge Companion to Film and Politics. Her forthcoming book is titled, Another Point of View: Animals and Anthropomorphism.

View Claire's Profile on Edgehill University's Website

Sarah O'Brien is a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Institute of Technology. 

She teaches first-year English courses that incorporate her interests in cinema and media studies, animal studies, and cultural studies. Her pedagogical interests in digitality center on the use of digital annotation tools to enhance film analysis.

Sarah completed her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Toronto. Her current book project, Slaughter Cinema, explores cinema’s capacity to unsettle the ways in which contemporary Western audiences have become habituated to viewing (or not viewing, as the case may be) animal life and death within modern regimes of animal slaughter. Her writing on the cinematic poetics of unsimulated animal life and death includes articles on the persistence of animals as allegory in Lucrecia Martel’s Salta trilogy (forthcoming in Screen, 2018); on the historical legacies of “slaughter cinema” (Framework: Journal of Film and Media, 57.1, spring 2016); on the surrealist aesthetics of Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (Cinema Journal 54.3, summer 2015); and—in an essay co-authored with Nicole Shukin—on the biopolitical uses of slaughter imagery in Strike and The Cove (Animal Life and the Moving Image, Palgrave MacMillan/British Film Institute, 2016). She has written about animal webcams, pink slime, Breaking Bad, and the interactive documentary Bear 71 for In Medias Res. Curious to see if—and how—she can translate her writing into digital modes, she is working on her first videographic essay—a comparative look at gendered ways of looking at evidence in the mini-series Top of the Lake and the anthology series True Detective.

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Anat Pick is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. Her work across image and text addresses the more-than-human dimensions of film and ethics. 

Her book Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (Columbia University Press, 2011) develops a “creaturely” approach to literature and film based on the shared vulnerability of human and nonhuman animals. Her co-edited volume Screening Nature: Cinema Beyond the Human (Berghahn, 2013) intersects film studies and the emergent fields of ecocriticism and critical animal studies to illustrate a nonanthropocentric understanding of the cinematic medium. Maureen (Hen Press, 2016) is a work of creative nonfiction that explores the commonalities between vulnerable humans and animals in institutions like the nursing home and the factory farm. Anat has published widely on animals in film, and animal ethics. Her new book project is entitled Vegan Cinema: Looking, Eating, Letting Be.

View Anat's Profile at University of London's Website

Nicole Shukin is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria. 

She's also member of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (CSPT). She does research in the areas of cultural and critical theory, and particularly on theories of biopower, posthumanism, animal studies, and the politics of capitalist natures. She regularly teaches courses in Canadian literature, postcolonial literature, and cultural studies. She is the author of Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical Times (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), and has written on a range of issues including animal slaughter and cinematic affect, human-animal relationships “after Fukushima” (that is, after Japan’s nuclear disaster in 2011), and pastoral power in the work of J.M. Coetzee.

View Nicole's Profile on the Universtiy of Victoria's Website


 

Research team assistants 2014- :

 

Dee Eduoard-Williams
 Samantha Hogg
Brian McCormack

Jonathan Osborne
Kelsey Speakman
Alice Wang

 
 

 

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