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Creaturely Lives: A Symposium in Animal Studies

The University of Notre Dame’s London Centre

To mark the publication of Anat Pick’s Creaturely Poetics: Animality and Vulnerability in Literature and Film (Columbia University Press, 2011), the Centre for Cultural Studies Research (CCSR) at the University of East London, and the University of Notre Dame in London are holding a symposium to discuss new developments within the field of animal studies.

Debates on animal ethics have been dominated by utilitarian and rights-based moral philosophy, seeking out the shared capacities of humans and animals as a gateway to the moral inclusion of nonhuman animals. Could the idea of creatureliness as the condition of vulnerability, the finitude of all living bodies, offer an alternative to these ethical models? Creatureliness has philosophical, religious, and artistic overtones; it features in the work of Walter Benjamin, in the mystical philosophy of Simone Weil, and resonates with recent developments in “vital materialist” thought. If creatureliness signals a properly universal condition rooted in the materiality and perishability of existence, might it also map out new horizons for theorizing (and living) a transhuman ethics? Point the way to new directions in literary and critical practice?

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