University of Sidney Lecture: “Farmyard choreographies in early modern England”, Professor Erica Fudge

Co-presented with HARN, the Human Animal Research Network at the University of Sydney

Date: 5 August, 2015
Time: 6:00-7:30pm
Venue: Law School Common Room, Level 4, Sydney Law School, Eastern Avenue, the University of Sydney
RSVP: Free and open to all with online registration requested. To register, visit:

How do we read animals that have left almost no textual traces? That is the central question here. Following a path from the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak, and the work of John Law and Donna Haraway, through Renaissance dance manuals (encountering some drunks along the way), the paper ends up in the fields and farmyards of early seventeenth-century Essex, chasing glimpses of human-livestock interactions. The problem faced is that these relationships were largely tacit ¬ there is very little written record of what it was like to live with a cow; or what it was like to be a sheep in the early modern period.

The paper asks, then, what kind of reading might we do when we are engaging with texts that are not there? The evidence used to begin to answer these questions is early modern, but the hope is that some of the implications might have a wider resonance in animal studies.

Professor Erica Fudge is Professor of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and is the Director of the British Animal Studies Network. Her publications are in two main areas: work written for a wider than academic audience on human/animal relations – Animal(2004) and Pets (2008) as well as articles in History Today magazine; and academic work on early modern culture – her books Perceiving Animals: Humans and Beasts in Early Modern English Culture (2000) and Brutal Reasoning: Animals, History and Humanity in Early Modern England (2006). She will be taking up an AHRC one-year research fellowship in September 2015 to undertake further work exploring the lives of the people and animals on early modern English smallholdings – she wants to know what it was like to be a cow in the early seventeenth century.