Friday March 30th, 11-4: "Animals:" The Hermanns Symposium, UTA Central Library. Free and open to the public.

About the Talks

11:00: Dr. Peggy McCracken, Professor of French, Women's Studies, and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan

“The Snake’s Face”
A Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute Event (College of Liberal Arts) and a Women’s History Month Lecture (Women’s and Gender Studies Program).

Levinas famously asked whether a snake has a face, but this is a question already answered in a variety of ways by medieval texts. Not only does the snake have a face, according to many medieval writers and illuminators, it has a woman¹s face. This juxtaposition of the human and the animal opens questions not just about species distinction, but also about faciality, recognition, gender, and subjectivity.

1:00: Dr. Neill Matheson, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Arlington

" Animal Sympathies: (In)humanity and Creaturely Life in Walden"

Thoreau juxtaposes two quite different notions of the animal at the heart of Walden: human animality, an animal life internal to the human; and nonhuman living creatures in the external environment.  Engaging with contemporary reform discourses promoting vegetarianism and sexual purity, Thoreau depicts human nature as marked by struggle and self-division, split by its border with the animal.  Yet he also envisions new affinities across species boundaries, framed in terms of an ethics and politics of the neighbor.  Walden explores the relation between sympathetic identification with others and species difference, between the human and the humane, raising questions that resonate more broadly in nineteenth-century American culture.

2:00: Dr. Cary Wolfe
Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor, Chair, Department of English, Rice University

"Biopolitics and the (Non-Human) Animal Body"

This talk will bring into conversation two genealogies of thought that have, for the most part, remained at a distance from each other: animal studiesand biopolitics.  Focusing on the work of Agamben, Foucault, Esposito, and Butler, we will explore some of the major differences and fault lines within biopolitical thought and how those differences enable or foreclose our ability to think about the common plight of human and non-human animals.

3:00: Allison Hunter, Visual Artist

"Animal Impressions"

Allison Hunter will present a selection of her artwork inspired by living creatures she photographed at man-made habitats such as at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, and the Fort Worth Zoo, among others. She will discuss the motivation behind her artistic choices such as digital manipulation and installation design. Hunter will focus In particular on two works, Zoosphere, (2010) a large-scale video installation commissioned by Diverse Works Artspace, Houston,  and  Honey Bee  (2011) a video involving  3D computer-generated animation and video.



We thank the Provost’s Office, the Office of Graduate Studies, The College of Liberal Arts , The Honors College, and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program for their generous support of this event.