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Displaying Death and Animating Life : Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science, and Everyday Life

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The day isn’t far off when no college student can graduate without having given serious thought to our relations with animals, and to how to make our relations with animals less detrimental for them. Animal studies, clearly, is a burgeoning field. Jane Desmond has been a pioneer in the field for years, conducting research onsite at major museums, taxidermy conventions, pet cemeteries, a professional conference for pet obituary writers, attending primatology meetings, and many behind-the-scenes visits to zoos as well as hands-on work with veterinary medicine, in which she has recently earned a degree. In this book, we accompany the author as she meets Kanzi the bonobo, watches an elephant paint, attends a weeklong training session on how to enrich the lives of animals in confinement, and helps prepare animal-made art for auction. Desmond focuses on the ways we relate to animals that underscore and highlight real animals with real individuality, and with their own subjectivities. The book plunges us into the world of museums (taxidermy), of pet cemeteries, of animal obituaries, of mourning and not mourning (including roadkill as objects), and also of art markets in animal-generated art. She is committed to preserving and informing our sense of (once) living, breathing, sweaty, noisy, moving animals active on the page. This is the inaugural volume in our new Animal Lives series, of which Desmond is the Directing Editor. This book beautifully exemplifies the series goal of bridging disciplines and reaching across divisions among the humanities and social sciences to chart new territories of investigation.

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