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Program for Animal/Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference - 21-22-23/03/2019, Texas (TX, USA)




The boundaries and complementarities relating animals and language have always captured the human imagination. Animal/Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference engages with a central feature of what is becoming known as the ‘animal turn’ in the Humanities: the recognition that animals and language have a complicated relationship with one another in human understanding.  What it means to be ‘human’ has often been thought through and against the figure of the ‘animal’, with ‘language’ traditionally seen as constitutive of human identity. The desire for—and the realities of—communication between animals and humans and among animals themselves put pressure on these mechanisms of distinction in ways that can be both exciting and unsettling.

            The ‘Animal’ in the Humanities Research Group of the Humanities Center of Texas Tech was founded in 2017 to foster interdisciplinary, collaborative inquiry into the role played by both ‘the animal’ and real animals in human intellectual landscapes, both historical and contemporary. To that end, this international conference brings together scholars from a range of disciplines, including literature, history, anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, the visual arts, therapy, and the sciences, in order to share their research, investigate the networks of relationships connecting animals, humans, and language in diverse historical, cultural, social, and philosophical contexts, and explore what particular perspectives on these questions reveal about the groups that hold them.

            This conference is organized by The ‘Animal’ in the Humanities Research Group: Dr. John Beusterien (Spanish), Dr. Belinda Kleinhans (German), Dr. Katy Schroeder (Animal & Food Sciences), Dr. Lucas Wood (French), Dr. Pamela Zinn (Classics), in collaboration with Joe Arredondo (Landmark Arts) and Dr. Kevin Chua (Art History).


FECHA /DATE/DATA: 21-22-23/03/2019


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Texas Tech University (Texas, TX, USA)









Thursday 21st March

5:30 PM, Escondido Theatre, Student Union Building


Welcome Remarks


Opening Keynote Address


Susan McHugh, Professor of English, University of New England

“The Language of Swarms in Theory and Fiction”

Introduction by Belinda Kleinhans, Assistant Professor of German, Texas Tech University


Welcome Reception



Friday 22nd March

All morning and afternoon sessions in the Student Union Building


8:30 – 9:15 AM: Coffee service; Registration [outside of Senate Room]


9:15 AM: Announcements [Senate Room]


9:30-11:00 AM: Panel Session I: The Ancient Origins of an Ongoing Debate [Senate Room]

  • Chair: Don Lavigne, Associate Professor of Classics, Texas Tech University

  • Kenneth Kitchell, Professor Emeritus of Classics, Louisiana State University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst

    • “Animal-Human Communication in Greco-Roman Antiquity”

  • Fabio Tutrone, Lecturer in Latin Language and Literature, University of Palermo

    • “Dumb Animals: On the History and Cultural Roots of A Classical Prejudice”

  • Pamela Zinn, Assistant Professor of Classics, Texas Tech University

    • “Muta Animalia?: Lucretius on Animal Language” 

11:00-11:30 AM: Coffee Break [outside Senate Room]


11:30 AM – 1:00 PM: Panel Session II: Speaking Over the Animal [Senate Room]

  • Chair: Philip Marshall, Professor of Psychological Sciences, Texas Tech University

  • Catalina Popescu, Independent scholar and Latin teacher at Holland Hall College Preparatory Academy

    • “(Un)Civilized Bodies: Music and Animalia in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book XI”

  • Serena Mangona, PhD student in Psychology, Texas Tech University

    • “Confirmation Bias and the Perception of Canine Breed Aggression”

  • Annika Hugosson, MS student in Anthrozoology, Canisius College

    • “The Feminization of Pit Bull Advocacy Work in the United States” 

1:00-2:30 PM: Lunch and Second Keynote Address [Mesa Room]

Robin Foster, Research Professor in Psychology, University of Puget Sound and Affiliate Professor, University of Washington

“Anthropomorphism in Human-Horse Interactions”

Introduction by Katy Schroeder, Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science, Texas Tech University


2:30-4:00 PM: Panel Session III (Parallel Panels A & B)


Panel A: Bird Talk [Senate Room]

  • Chair: Carole Edwards, Associate Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Texas Tech University

  • Charles Grair, Associate Professor of German, Texas Tech University

    • “The Voice of the Raven: Folklore and Mythology of the Northern Peoples”

  • John Beusterien, Professor of Spanish, Texas Tech University

    • “Talking Birds in Cervantes’s The Great Sultana”

  • Anthony Qualin, Associate Professor of Russian, Texas Tech University

    • “Lamentations and Peregrinations: Birds in the works of Chingiz Aitmatov” 

Panel B: Speech/Act [Lubbock Room]

  • Chair: Kanika Batra, Associate Professor of English, Texas Tech University

  • Marjean D. Purinton, Professor of English, Texas Tech University

    • “Animals at Play on the British Romantic Stage”

  • Anton Killin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy, Australian National University

    • “Animal Vocal Traditions, Vocal Learning, and Modelling Cultural Transmission”

  • Lindsey Stern, PhD student in Comparative Literature, Yale University

    • “What the Lion Would Say: Or, What Wittgenstein Would Say To Biolinguists”

4:00-4:30 PM: Coffee Break [outside Senate Room]


4:30-6:00 PM: Panel Session IV: Animals and the Arts [Senate Room]

  • Chair: Victoria Surliuga, Associate Professor of Italian, Texas Tech University

  • Martha Otis, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Miami

    • “Music and Language and the Radically Receptive Listener”

  • Maria Lux, Assistant Professor of Art, Whitman College

    • “Animal Language Pioneers: The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Reimagining Animals as Explorers through Visual Art”

  • Kevin Chua, Associate Professor of Art History, Texas Tech University

    • “From Animal Iconography to Animal Image”

6:00-6:15 PM: Change venues to English Lecture Hall 001


6:15-7:15 PM: Third Keynote Address

Catherine Chalmers, Distinguished Artist, New York City

“Collaborating with Insects”

Introduction by Kevin Chua, Associate Professor of Art History, Texas Tech University


7:30 PM: Reception for Exhibition [Landmark Gallery, School of Art Building]

Assembling Animal Language

Curated by Kevin Chua, Associate Professor of Art History, Texas Tech University



Saturday 23rd March

All morning sessions in the Student Union Building


8:00-8:30 AM: Coffee Service [outside Soapsuds Room]


8:30-10:00 AM: Panel Session V (Parallel Panels C & D)


Panel C: Animal Language, Human Justice [Soapsuds Room]

  • Chair: Christopher Witmore, Professor of Archeology and Classics, Texas Tech University

  • Jeremy McInerney, Professor of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania

    • “Yelping, Whimpering and Mooing: The Animal Speech of Aeschylus’ Eumenides”

  • Julie Chamberlin, PhD student in English, Indiana University, Bloomington

    • “Ful Louder: The Power of Animal Voices in the Medieval Fable Tradition”

  • Marissa Crannel-Ash, PhD student in History, University of Rochester

    • “The Squeals of Guilt: Animal Confessions in Medieval Animal Trials” 

Panel D: Discourses of Inclusion and Exclusion [Bell Tower Room]

  • Chair: Susan Larson, Charles B. Qualia Professor of Spanish, Texas Tech University

  • James Haney, MA student in Spanish, Texas Tech University

    • “Animals in the Gutter: An Analysis of a Graphic Novel of a Play by Miguel de Cervantes”

  • Gabriela Jarzebowska, PhD student in Cultural Studies, University of Warsaw, Fulbright Fellow, Wesleyan University

    • “The Enemy and Filth: Urban Rats in Polish Postwar Pest Control Language”

  • Sigmund Jakob Michael Stephan, MA Student in Intercultural German Studies, University of Mannheim and University of Waterloo

    • “When Species Meet and Talk at the Heterotopia” 

10:00-10:30 AM: Coffee Break [stations set outside each session room]


10:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Panel Session VI (Parallel Panels E & F)


Panel E: Animal Bodies, Ethical Narratives [Soapsuds Room]

  • Chair: Alec Cattell, Assistant Professor of Practice in German, Texas Tech University

  • Stephen Newmyer, Professor of Classics, Duquesne University

    • “Plutarch on Animal Language and Human Morality”

  • Belinda Kleinhans, Assistant Professor of German, Texas Tech University

    • “Meat and Metaphysics”

  • Howard Curzer, Professor of Philosophy, Texas Tech University

    • “A Rising Tide Floats One Boat: Noah’s Response to Climate Change” 

Panel F: Animal Metaphor [Bell Tower Room]

  • Chair: Kurt Caswell, Associate Professor, Honors College, Texas Tech University

  • Adrienne Hagen, Assistant Professor of Classics, Monmouth College

    • “Maternal Expressions of Love and Loss in Homeric Animal Similes”

  • Ata Sunucu, BA Student in Comparative Literature, Boston University

    • “The Harmon of Adversity: Marianne Moore’s Animals”

  • Lucas Wood, Assistant Professor of French, Texas Tech University

    • “Animal Metaphors and Pedagogies of Consent in Medieval Fabliaux” 

12:00-1:30 PM Lunch and Fourth Keynote Address [Matador Room]

Adrienne L. Martín, Emerita Professor of Spanish, University of California Davis

“Animalspeak and the Construction of Character in Miguel de Cervantes, The Colloquy of the Dogs”

Introduction by John Beusterien, Professor of Spanish, Texas Tech University


1:30-1:45 PM: Change venues to Livestock Arena


1:45-4:00 PM: “Interspecies Nonverbal Communication: Live Presentations of Canine-Human and Equine-Human Interactions

  • Opening remarks by Katy Schroeder, Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science, Texas Tech University

  • 1:45-2:45 PM: Katy Schroeder and Tangi Irwin, Program Director, Texas Tech Therapeutic Riding and Therapy Center

    • “Equine Nonverbal Communication in Therapeutic Settings: The Role of Equine Behavior and Temperament Assessments in Creating Optimal Experiences for Humans and Horses” 

2:45-3:00 PM: Mini-break

  1. 3:00-4:00 PM: Megan Arant, PhD student in Animal Science and Alexandra Protopopova, Assistant Professor of Companion Animal Science, Texas Tech University

    • “What About the Dog? Assessing Preference and Choice of Therapy Dogs During Sessions with Children”

    •  “How to Speak Dog: Using Behavioral Ethograms to Understand Intention within Dog Social Play”

4:00-4:15 PM: Change venue to Ranching Heritage Center (RHC)


4:15-5:15 PM: Roundtable Discussion and Concluding Remarks


5:15-6:15 PM: Refreshments and Time to Explore RHC Exhibitions


6:15 PM: Closing Dinner Party 


Additional information can be found on the conference and exhibition websites:


If you are planning to attend and are not already a registered participant, please contact by March 15th.


Animal Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference is funded with generous support from a grant from the City of Lubbock, as recommended by Civic Lubbock, Inc.; the Humanities Center of Texas Tech University through the Office of the Provost; the Office of Research and Innovation; the College of Arts & Sciences; the J. T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts; the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures; the Department of Animal & Food Sciences; the Ryla T. & John F. Lott Endowment for Excellence in the Visual Arts in the School of Art; the Charles B. Qualia Endowment in the Department of Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures; and Landmark Arts in the School of Art. Exhibitions and speaker programs in the Texas Tech University School of Art are made possible in part with a generous grant from the Helen Jones Foundation of Lubbock, with additional support from the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts.


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