Conference: Thank you!

We would like to thank everyone who attended and/or presented at our conference on the 17th of June! We hope that you enjoyed the papers and discussions as much as we did.

If anyone would like to write up a short reaction or reflection on some of the conference papers and themes, do get in touch at our usual email address. We would be interested in posting some of your ideas and questions on our blog, as a kind of ‘these are the important issues we raised’ type of overview of the conference.


Updated Conference Programme

Please note that there have been some last-minute changes to the conference programme, as Thomas Harmsworth has withdrawn his paper. The new schedule is:

9.00 – Registration   (Room 4.2)

9.20 – Welcome and Introduction   (Room 4.2)

9.30 – 11.00 Session 1:


Panel 1: Photography, Corpses and Dolls: Non/Human Imprints   (Room 4.1)

Chaired by Sophia Wilson (King’s College London)

  • Framing the Corpse beyond ‘Humanity’

Lauren Summersgill (Birkbeck College, University of London)

  • Discussing Dolls: Horror and the Human Double

Sandra Mills (University of Hull)

  • ‘An infinite Number of leaf-like skins’: Balzac and the Skin of Mimesis

Polly Dickson (University of Cambridge)


Panel 2: Forming Connections in a Non/Human Environment   (Room 4.2)

Chaired by Briony Wickes (King’s College London)

  • Charles Avery’s The Islanders: Nonhuman Witnessing and the ‘Blind Spot’ of Humanism

Irina Chkhaidze (University College London)

  • Transformations and Transgressions in the Later Poetry of Thomas Hardy

Adrian Tait (independent scholar)

  • A Window on Imagined Worlds: Anthropocentrism and Fantasy

Jon Garrad (independent scholar)

  • The Dog as Child: Human/Animal Psychology and Inter-Species Attachment Bonds

Jennifer Adlem (Queen Mary, University of London)


11.00 – 11.30 – Tea/coffee break   (Room 4.1)

11.30 – 12.30 Session 2:


Panel 3: Humans, Animals and Inter-species Connections   (Room 4.1)

Withdrawn due to last-minute cancellation, the paper by Jennifer Adlem has been moved to panel 2.


Panel 4: The Scientific Body: Brains and Microbes   (Room 4.2)

Chaired by Gabriella Infante (King’s College London)

  • Out-Sexing Anthropocentrism: Humans, Microbes and the Entanglements of Symbiosis

Nancy Cooper (Goldsmiths, University of London)

  • Staging Posthuman Embodiment: The Brain Artefact Interface in Science Fiction Theatre

Susan Gray (Royal Holloway, University of London)


12.30 – Lunch (Room 4.1)

13.30 – 15.00 Session 3:


Panel 5: Cyborgs, Machines, Mechanized Humans   (Room 4.1)

Chaired by Gerard Briscoe (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Revisiting the Politics of Cyborg-Monsters: Ein Schrei im Magen des Ungeheuers

Mayu Iida (Goldsmiths, University of London)

  • Exploring Humanity in a Mechanizing World: The Case of The Transformers and Japanese Robot Anime

Geert van Iersel (Fontys University of Applied Sciences)

  • Us or Other? Cylons and Terminators as Representations on the Machine/Human Divide

Ágnes Kanizsai and Gergely Nagy (University of Szeged, Hungary)


Panel 6: Bodily Limits and Instability: Experiments, Catastrophes, Genocide   (Room 4.2)

Chaired by Eleanor Massie (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • We Have Never Been Posthuman, or The Recognition of Difference in Posthuman Politics

Maciej Czerniakowski (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland)

  • Dogs, Aurochs, Zombies: Corporeality and Hurricane Katrina

Christopher Lloyd (Goldsmiths, University of London)

  • Primo Levi and Robert Antelme: Mapping the Limits of the Human Body

Stefano Bellin (University College London)


15.00 – 15.30 – Tea/coffee break   (Room 4.1)

15.30 – 17.00 Session 4:


Panel 7: Threatening Bodies: Weapons, Factories and Technology   (Room 4.1)

Chaired by Nicola Kirkby (King’s College London)

  • ‘human warious […] That’s the general panoramic view’. Figuring the Limits of Creative Destruction in Dickens’s Fiction from the 1850s and ’60s

Joanna Robinson (King’s College London/Museum of London)

  • Fly Boy

Fabienne Collignon (University of Sheffield)

  • The Idol That I Will Have Been: Human and Divine Origins in the Transhuman Apocalyptic Visions of Thomas Horn, Douglas Hamp and Terry L. Cook

Jonathon O’Donnell (SOAS, University of London)


Panel 8: Transformations in Fairy Tales, Fantasy, and Anime   (Room 4.2)

Chaired by Hetta Howes (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Transitioning Bodies and Changeling Children in Gregory Maguire’s Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and Out of Oz

Karen Graham (University of Aberdeen)

  • ‘An evil power was obstructing you’: The Transformation and Solidification of the Human in Japanese Girls’ Media

Anya Benson (University of York)

  • Inhumanity and Enchantment in Fairy Tales

Erin Horáková (Glasgow University)


17.00 – Closing, all are welcome to join us for drinks!

Conference: Programme and Registration

Our conference programme has been finalized and it is now up on this page.

Registration for the conference is also open. Please register via our Eventbrite page:

Although the tickets are free, we would like all our speakers and other delegates to register in advance, so that we know how many people to expect (for catering, size of rooms, etc.).

We hope to see you all on the 17th of June!

Reminder: deadline soon!

This is just a gentle reminder that the deadline for submitting abstracts for our upcoming conference ‘Being Non/Human: Bodily Borders’ is Monday 2nd February 2015. Our conference focuses on the suspension between the non/human and the borderlands of non/humanity, examining how such borders are defined, transgressed or denied altogether. The conference will take place on Wednesday 17th June 2015 at Queen Mary, University of London. Please send abstracts (250 words) for twenty minute papers or panel proposals to: being.non.human AT

We look forward to reading your abstracts!

Possibly of interest: PhD Studentship and a CFP

Some of our members might be interested in the following:

PhD Studentship in Literature, Animal Studies and Sustainability:

Applications are invited from well-qualified candidates to study for a PhD in the School of English at the University of Sheffield, on the topic of ‘Meat Consumption and the Idea of Animals as Resources’.

This studentship will trace the historical emergence of our current ideas of animal resources by studying the interactions of humans and meat animals in literature from the nineteenth century to the present. The student will have the flexibility to collate a suitable corpus of texts and explore their own inquiry, guided by these research questions:

1. What mix of attitudes is involved in thinking of an animal as a resource?
2. How do such attitudes vary in different practices of food production?
3. What other roles can animals play in addition to their designation as resources?

It is envisaged that there will be three case studies, focusing on both production and consumption: small-scale farming; large-scale farming and trawler fishing.

The University of Sheffield is Sheffield is a leading centre for the study of the literary, cultural and political representation of animals. The successful applicant will join a vibrant community of scholars working in this area, including the co-supervisors Robert McKay and John Miller (English), and the supervisory team of Alasdair Cochrane (Politics) and Umberto Albarella (Zooarchaeology).

Funded by the interdisciplinary Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, this is a prestigious, four-year studentship fully funded at UK/EU or International rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,563 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year. Students will receive an annual stipend of £16,913 in 2015/16, rising with inflation thereafter. Applications should be received and complete by 28th February 2015.

For more information and application details please follow this link:

Call for Papers (note: deadline soon!):
Tales Beyond Borders: A conference exploring the intercultural role of fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy literature
23 – 25 April 2015

Tales Beyond Borders is a two-day international conference (24th-25th April) and a postgraduate/early career researcher workshop (23rd April), all of which is being organized by the ‘Reading the Fantastic’ Graduate Research Group at the University of Leeds. Through these events, we aim to bring together those working in various aspects of  fantasy studies (taking a wide interpretation for this category) in order to study and discuss this emerging field of research from a cross/multi – cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Tales Beyond Borders offers a broad approach to the investigation of fantasy texts, reaching into spheres such as theatre, comics, film, art history, and the storytelling classroom (to name a few) in addition to literary texts. We hope to contribute to the field by gathering connections among multiple fantasy traditions, ranging from the complexities of classical mythology to long nineteenth-century fairy tale collections, the cognitive literary analysis of folk traditions to issues in translation of fantastic texts, and beyond. By doing so, we will explore the role of fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy texts as spaces of multi-cultural invention and intervention.

Keynote speakers include the following:
  1. Dr Nicola Bown (Birkbeck University of London)
  2. Dr Alaric Hall (University of Leeds)
  3. Justina Robson, science fiction and fantasy writer
  4. Peter Stevenson, fairy tale illustrator and storyteller

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  •  Current theories in analyzing fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy literature
  •  Complexities around representations and interpretations of the fantastic and the speculative both within and beyond historical contexts and period categorizations
  •  Problems in translating elements of the fantastic across cultures, disciplines, and geographic areas
  •  How the fantastic relates to constructions and representations of gender and ethnicity
  •  Perceptions of the fantastic within/across generational and inter-generational contexts (e.g. children’s literature, young adult fiction, etc.)
  • Exploring genre classifications and boundaries within the fantastic and the speculative (touching on the gothic, the uncanny, mythologies, romances, the monstrous and science fiction to name a few examples)
  • Recently discovered texts  (visual, vocal, written, and others), reimagined, and/or adapted texts
  •  Connections across mediums that deal with the fantastic – art, literature, film, music, drama, graphics
  • Using fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy literature in classroom, community, and digital contexts

We welcome proposals from postgraduate students, established scholars, independent researchers, writers, and artists from any background. Papers can be on any subject or discipline in relation to fairy tales, folk tales, and fantasy literature but we encourage these topics to question or address ideas and crossings of boundaries between/within conceptions of the fantastic and the speculative. Proposal abstracts must be between 200-300 words; please send abstracts, along with a biography (100 words maximum) of the prospective speaker(s), to (using the term ‘ TBB conference abstract’ in the subject heading).

The deadline for the submission of abstracts and biographies is 31st January 2015.

Being Non/Human: Bodily Borders – Call for Papers!

Being Non/Human: Bodily Borders

‘Being Non/Human’ is organising a conference for 2015 on the topic of ‘bodily borders’ and we invite any postgraduate or early career researcher interested in this theme to submit an abstract or propose a panel. Being Non/Human is an interdisciplinary group that engages with research on interactions between the human and nonhuman, providing a forum for graduate students and early career researchers to present current research. We hope this conference will offer a similar opportunity.

Transforming human skin into fur or scale; combining living tissue with metal; breaking through membrane into disembodied existence. Factual and fictional narratives of bodily metamorphosis are common. But what does it mean to exist in the middle – in the moment between pre- and post-transformation? What does it entail when we speak of change, adaptation and mutation? We are looking for papers and panels which explore this suspension between the non/human and open it up to analyse the borderlands of non/humanity, examining how such borders are defined, transgressed or denied altogether.

This is an interdisciplinary conference and as such we welcome papers and panels from a range of backgrounds. We are looking for examinations of bodily borders within literature and popular culture, the limits of the human in medicine, the impact of technological developments on how we define the borders of the ‘human’, the place of the non/human in ethics, anthropological approaches to how the human body may have changed over time, the concept of liminal embodiment in theology, discussions of the boundary between human and animal, and so forth.

How human is the cyborg’s touch? What does it mean to cross species’ boundaries or create chimeras? What is the experience of shifting beyond an animal body into vegetal or ecological vibrancy – to become cold as ice, turn into stone, be reduced to ash or mud? Is the transformation between the non/human merely physical?

Possible focuses might include:

  • Posthuman embodiment
  • The hybrid, mutated or mutilated form
  • The animalistic or inorganic body
  • Subhuman, superhuman or sublime existence
  • The lifeless body
  • The disembodied

Please send abstracts (250 words) for twenty minute papers or panel proposals to: being.non.human AT The deadline for abstracts is Monday 2nd February 2015.

The conference will take place on Wednesday 17th June 2015 at Queen Mary, University of London. It is organised by Sophia Wilson (King’s College London) and Lydia Zeldenrust (Queen Mary, University of London).

Being Non/Human

Upcoming Festival: Being Human

Many of you may have already heard about this, but from the 15th to 23rd November there will be the ‘Being Human’ festival of humanities across the UK and Northern Ireland:

This festival is aimed at promoting the innovative research going on in the various humanities departments across UK universities. There are lots of public lectures, film screenings, exhibitions and performances.

Here are just a few of the events taking place…

‘Memory Banquet: Food and Acts of Remembering’ (London, 15th November) –

‘The Genius of Language’ (Canterbury, 16th November) –

‘Finding Commonality: Hamlet in World Cinema’ (Belfast, 17th November) –

‘Terror, Gods and Magic in the North’ (Aberdeen, 18th November) –

‘Animal, Mechanical and Me’ (Edinburgh, 19th November) –

‘From Humanism to the Human: A Medieval and Renaissance Journey’ (Norwich, 20th November) –

‘Feeling Funny, Being Human’ (London, 21st November) –

‘Genre and Gender, Couples and Culture’ (London, 22nd November) –

‘We Are Many’ (Nottingham, 23rd November) –


There are plenty other events going on, so have a look at their website.