Seminar: The Rhetoric of Human-Animal Relations (Oslo)

Centre for Development and the Environment at the University of Oslo will host an interdisciplinary seminar (May 29-30, 2012) on how rhetoric helps create and influence the relationship between humans and other animals. Further information below.

 

With rhetoric, we make realities. And despite the complaint that humans are “a species which has at last been isolated” (Berger), the realities that humans create with rhetoric are not exclusively human. The purpose of this workshop is to investigate the rhetoric that reaches beyond the human sphere.

In some of its various definitions, rhetoric refers either to “the art of persuasion,” to a continuous process of “identification,” or to an “articulation” that tries to fix meaning in a world where no such meaning is given. In all cases, it appears that rhetoric is something humans perform with and on each other. But if humans are perhaps the only species capable of rhetoric, they are certainly not the only species affected by it. In fact, rhetoric creates the space within which our everyday practices with other beings take place. Rhetoric thus connects the philosophical “question of the animal” with our everyday interactions with animals; in both cases, the salient issue is that – and how – words and other rhetorical means  have consequences.

In this workshop, we will focus on questions like these: How do we use rhetoric to form, understand, explain, discuss, ponder, justify, challenge, and criticize human-animal practices? How do we rhetorically create, uphold, and challenge the norms that are supposed to guide our behavior towards nonhumans? How do visual and verbal rhetorics shape human-animal relations in theory as well as in practice? Finally, how does interacting with animals inspire development of other rhetorics (olfactory, tactile, performative, etc.)?
We invite scholars engaged in rhetorical studies, broadly defined, to present current work on how human-animal spaces of action are created with rhetorical means. We welcome contributions from a variety of academic disciplines and approaches, geographical locations, and fields of practice. The
event will take place at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Key note speakers
Susan McHugh (University of New England) is associate professor of English at the University of New England, the author of Dog (2004), Animal Stories: Narrating across Species Lines (2011) and many journal articles on different aspects of human-animal relations, especially in literature.

Mara Miele (Cardiff University) is a sociologist who specializes in food consumption practices, and whose work focuses especially on how we make and relate to the animals that become our food.

  • Where: University of Oslo
  • When: 29-30 May 2012
  • Please direct any questions to Denne e-postadressen er beskyttet mot programmer som samler e-postadresser. Du må aktivere javaskript for å kunne se den.  or visit the website for more info.


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