CFP: Becoming Animal with the Victorians
Université Paris Diderot, Thursday 4 – Friday 5 February 2016
SFEVE Annual Conference
The subject of Victorian relationships with animals is a complex one and necessitates an engagement with many disciplines from history,economics and politics to botany, zoology, art and literature. That relationship is often one of dominance but it is also an embrace of the animal as an ideal and a questioning of the centrality of the human. The concept of “becoming-animal” that Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari develop in a number of their writings seems to question animal-human boundaries and creatively stretch the limits of the human – not only in terms of metamorphosis but in the possibility of new identities and the freedom to become something new and other. The title of the conference also gestures ironically at the idea that animals ‘become’ us – that they ‘suit’ or ‘enhance’ us; the Victorians
literally ‘wore’ them but they also wanted to become like them – run wild, forget to be human, forget to be Victorian.
From Lewis Carroll’s improbable Dodo and elusive Cheshire cat in Alice and Wonderland to Rossetti’s famous menagerie and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beloved spaniel Flush, Victorian culture teems with actual or imaginary animals in their relations to us. In a century that witnessed the emergence of public zoos, animal protection societies and the theory of natural selection but also encouraged big game hunting in the British Empire and condoned cruelty to wild animals, ambivalent attitudes prevailed, leading to major public debates on issues like vivisection or the possibility of an animal soul. This conference will assess the place of animals in Victorian society and the scope of animal/human interactions. With the current rise of critical Animal Studies and a real “animal turn” in academic research, it is timely for the Société Française d’Etudes Victoriennes et Edouardiennes to consider Victorian culture and history from the point of view of the animal and to give back power, voice and even subjectivity to its furred and feathered friends.
This year’s annual conference will address the following issues:
– Animals in Science and natural history
– Darwinism/ Species
– Souls, subjectivities and anthropomorphism
– Zoos, menageries, exotic pet shops
– Animals and Empire
– Pets and petkeeping
– Celebrities and their dogs/cats
– The Animal industry (exotic animals, monkeys, parrots, whales)
– Animal Entertainment (fairgrounds, shows)
– Animal rights (experimentation, protection, vegetarianism, ecosystems)
– Animals and gender/ Animals and class
– Dressing/Fashion and Animals (furs, feathers, costumes,
mimetism and camouflage)
– Taxidermy and Animal Collecting
– Rare or Extinct Animals
– Animal Phobias and Fancies
– Steam Punk and Victorian animal fantasy in film and video games.
– Fairgrounds and animal entertainment (bears, dogs and badger-baiting)
– Consuming Animals (Diets and ethical issues)
– Envisioning/staging Animals (in the Visual Arts or Drama)
– Micro animals and the microscopic creatures.
As with previous SFEVE colloquia, this event will focus on broad
notions that will be of interest to scholars from a range of fields,
including disciplines such as (but not limited to) anthropology,
sociology, history, cultural studies, literature studies, art history,
science and technology studies, ethology, psychoanalysis, psychology, behavioural sciences and ecology.
Please submit abstracts (250 words + a brief scholarly biography) to firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com no later than 25 October , 2015.