Even if, like us, you’re not in Australia, this should still concern you, because it’s a conference that anyone with a knack for writing (or even a vague interest in it) — and a passion for animals — should consider replicating. The University of Sydney is organizing a “celebration of animals within worlds of writing,” a one-day conference aiming to “recognize, reflect on and discuss the influence of animals on writers’ practices within literary and academic contexts.” Entitled Animals + Writing, there will be three central themes framing the July 7 event:
How do animals influence writers’ practices?
How are writers redressing inadequate representations of non-human animals and human-animal relations through their practices?
When are animals most present in writing and are they always more than symbols?
The idea of further exploring, in an organized and dynamic fashion, the role that writing can and should play when it comes to speaking up for animals in a variety of contexts is one that speaks to me on a deep level. There’s also serious opportunity here for thinking in new directions, especially when it comes to analyzing literature (and media) with a critical eye toward animal rights.
I have previously given a talk on “Writing for Animal Rights” several times, and have documented a few of my handouts for anyone interested. I’m excited that an academic institution like the University of Sydney is taking on this (not necessarily academic!) topic, and that animal advocates with a penchant for the written word are becoming more serious about honing their craft, so that we can all use this skill to change the world for animals — in as effective and persuasive way as possible.