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Beastly Landscapes

Exploring the intersection between beasts, art and landscape.

The connection between beasts and humans

The non-human turn in the social sciences and humanities has drawn attention to human’s entanglement with ‘non-human’ worlds. This research group explores the ‘beastly’ as the central dynamic in this encounter. It is interdisciplinary.

Beasts have long inhabited our:

  • art (Neolithic rock paintings)
  • landscapes (gothic literature)
  • science (inter-species transplants)

Challenging the limits of what it means to be human

Beasts challenge the limits of what it means to be human in relation to other beings. We use the term 'beastly' to capture the messy in-between spaces as well as the uncomfortable, ambiguous relations that characterise human-non-human relations. Scholars have examined non-humans in terms of their cultural dynamics. They have looked both at imaginative writings, and at real and fantastical creatures. However, artworks themselves have featured little, as have art and performance as metaphors for the beastly.

Beasts as creative beings

Our first symposium (in September 2021) explored the intersection between beasts, art and landscape. We explored this through a multidisciplinary focus and by providing arts-led interventions into these debates. This was through dialogue between academics, artists, and cultural organisations. It examined beasts as creative beings that can help us make sense of the world and our place in it. We can test the boundaries of the human in the Anthropocene, de-centring human agency and put a rein on human exceptionalism.

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