Mapping Animality (ACLA, University of Toronto, 4-7 April, 2013)
From their ubiquitous presence in folktales and fables to their anthropomorphized appearance in Hollywood blockbusters, from Picasso's Guernica to the landscape of Iranian new wave cinema, animals threaten us, haunt us, position us in countertime. Recent years have seen an increasing scholarly interest in the relationship between the human and the animal, asking the question of how the animal has opened up new ways of looking at post-Cartesian understanding of subjectivity. As we encounter terms like zoontology, zoography, and animot in our discipline, the animal – a being and a construct – forces the human, as Derrida and Agamben have argued, to re-think ideas like sovereignty, politics, ethics and justice. This seminar is interested in examining the global modalities of representing these dialectics.
Going beyond the idea of mere animal presence, our discussion will aim to address the following questions:
Do we represent animals in works of literature, cinema and theatre in a homogenous way? Or, should this be mapped in its socio-aesthetico-political as well as spatio-temporal specificity?
How do these representations reinforce, appropriate or de-essentialize the assumed difference between the human and the animal?
Has our understanding of the animal changed in post-9/11 world?
For this seminar we seek papers that theorize the issue of animality in literary and cultural productions including cinema and drama. In order to explore the globality of animal metaphysics, we hope to include papers from diverse backgrounds, both in terms of region and time period.