Animal Studies conducts qualitative inquiry about nonhuman animals and human-animal relations. This interdisciplinary academic inquiry involves the arts, humanities and social sciences but also some branches of life sciences.
Over the last 15 years or so, animal studies has seen a steady growth in terms of conferences, journal special issues, monograph and book-series publications, graduate research, masters and undergraduate courses and programmes.
The University of Sheffield is recognised as a leader in this field, with the Millennial Animals conference (2000) regarded by the Papers of the Modern Language Association as foundational in the field. At the University of Sheffield, animal studies research is and has been conducted across the Faculties of Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences in a number of disciplines (literature, film, performance, philosophy and critical theory, SIIBS, music, history, archaeology, politics, sociology, geography, and law).
Sheffield is unique in having a significant number of prominent scholars in their respective disciplinary areas of animal studies inquiry, given its still-growing status. This has led to the development of the Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (ShARC), a network of scholars, graduate and undergraduate students which has hosted a number of speakers in the past, as well as reading groups and other events including a meeting of the British Animal Studies Network.
A particular focus of research expertise in ShARC is the political and cultural representation of animals; however, the proposed centre’s remit is conceived more broadly to include any form of qualitative understanding of animal life and of human-animal relations.
Aims of the Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre (ShARC)
The Sheffield Animal Studies Research Centre aims to become the preeminent location internationally for research in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences (and these areas’ interactions with other fields of research) that considers nonhuman animals and human–animal relations.
The Centre is led by our three directors: Professor Robert McKay, Dr John Miller (English) and Professor Alasdair Cochrane (Politics).
Further aims and objectives
To provide an organisation which showcases Sheffield’s already established international excellence in animal studies, allowing this to be developed.
To provide a supportive, inclusive and critically challenging research environment for established academics, ECRs, graduate students, and novice (UG and PGT) researchers at the University of Sheffield, from the full range of relevant disciplines, to enrich their work in interdisciplinary animal studies.
To provide networking and collaborative opportunities for the pursuit of larger team-based research projects that bring together animal studies researchers from across Sheffield, and from White Rose, N8, WUN and UK universities.
To facilitate dialogue between competing discourses and challenge established viewpoints within and beyond the academy around questions of the value of animal life.
To lay the groundwork by which further institutional investment in animal studies can be explored (such as collaborative postgraduate programmes).
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