Tag Archive for Kari Weil

Gruen Edits, Weil Contributes to Critical Terms for Animal Studies Book

Lori Gruen, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, is the editor of the book Critical Terms for Animal Studies, published by the University of Chicago Press in October 2018. Gruen also wrote the book’s introduction and a chapter on empathy. In addition, she invited Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, to write a chapter on difference.

Animal studies is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field devoted to examining, understanding, and critically evaluating the complex relationships between humans and other animals. Scholarship in animal studies draws on a variety of methodologies to explore these multifaceted relationships in order to help us understand the ways in which other animals figure in our lives and we in theirs.

Bringing together the work of a group of internationally distinguished scholars, Critical Terms for Animal Studies offers distinct voices and diverse perspectives, exploring significant concepts and asking the questions: How do we take nonhuman animals seriously, not simply as metaphors for human endeavors, but as subjects themselves? What do we mean by anthropocentrism, captivity, empathy, sanctuary, and vulnerability, and what work do these and other critical terms do in animal studies?

The book provides a framework for thinking about animals as subjects of their own experiences but also serves as a touchstone to help readers think differently about their conceptions of what it means to be human, and the impact human activities have on the more than human world.

Other chapters focus on the topics of activism, emotion, ethics, extinction, law, pain, rights, sanctuary, veganism, vulnerability, welfare, and more.

Gruen also is professor, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; professor, science in society; and coordinator, animal studies. Weil also is University Professor, College of the Environment; University Professor, environmental studies; and co-coordinator, animal studies.

Gruen will speak about Critical Terms for Animal Studies and sign copies of the book during an event held at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore.

Weil on Respect and Our Relationships with Thinking Animals

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil is director of the College of Letters and the University Professor of Letters.

Kari Weil, the University Professor of Letters, was a guest on WNPR’s “The Faith Middleton Show” to discuss how our evolving understanding of animals should affect how we treat them personally and professionally.

They began by discussing the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey would stop using elephants in their circus performances within three years.

“I think there is a fine line between use and abuse,” said Weil.”I don’t think all use is abuse. I think animals depend on us, we depend on them. We can use certain animals for certain things, but when we’re down to exploitive techniques like bull hooks and fear tactics, I think we’ve gone the wrong way.”

Middleton asked about the root of Weil’s interest in animal studies.

Oddly, she said, it started with an interest in the relationship between women and horses in 19th century France. Women had to get special dispensation to cross-dress so they could straddle horses, Weil explained.

“That interest slowly took me to other questions of training techniques, of how horses were used, of how they were regarded. Of why, when horses were the most popular animal, they were also legalized for human consumption,” she said.

Hear the complete interview here. Weil also is director of the College of Letters.

Weil Leads Workshops in Chile on Trends in American Animal Studies

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on "Current Trends in American Animal Studies Educational Diplomacy" at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, director of the College of Letters, spoke on “Current Trends in American Animal Studies” at the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile. Her invitation was part of an academic agreement between the university and the Cultural Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Chile.

Stray dogs are everywhere in Santiago, Chile. They lie on sidewalks, wander the parks, and even cross busy streets unaided. No one seems to mind; they’re just part of the culture.

For Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, they also were a striking reminder of the purpose of her recent trip to Santiago. At the invitation of the U.S. Embassy there, she visited the Pontificia Catholic University of Chile Jan. 6-9 to discuss current trends in American animal studies.

Although academics have studied animals from various perspectives for a long time, animal studies as a cross-disciplinary field has come into its own fairly recently. The field, developing robustly in the United States, draws the attention of scholars in areas such as anthropology, film studies, psychology, literary studies and philosophy. At Wesleyan, Weil and Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy, have led the development of an Animal Studies program with courses ranging from Animal Theories/Human Fictions to Applied Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics and the Animal/Human Boundary. They also co-sponsor a summer fellowship in animal studies at Wesleyan, in conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute.

In some areas outside the United States,

Weil Delivers Keynote at Animal Studies Conference in Chicago

Kari Weil

Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, delivered a keynote address on “Animal Studies: The Ends of Empathy and Beginnings of Reading” at a “Why do Animal Studies?” conference April 3-4 at the University of Chicago.

During the conference, scholars discussed “What is it that draws a multiplicity of voices into this conversation, and how can they productively engage with one another? Why has this field of inquiry gained such traction in recent decades? How is Animal Studies taking shape as a field that overlaps multiple discourses and disciplines, and what opportunities or difficulties arise as a result? How do different methodologies clarify or substantiate one another, fill knowledge gaps, and illuminate unknown aspects of individual areas of interest?”

Weil has published widely on literary representations of gender, feminist theory, and, more recently, on theories and representations of animal otherness. She recently co-edited a special issue of Hypatia titled, Animal Others (2012) and she is the author of  Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now (2012) and Androgyny and the Denial of Difference (1992). Her current project is tentatively titled,  ‘The Most Beautiful Conquest of Man’ ?: Horses and Other Animal Pursuits in 19-Century France.

Weil’s Op-Ed: Horsemeat is an “Unsettled Cultural Crisis”

In the wake of a recent scandal in which horse meat was discovered in meat products labeled as beef in the United Kingdom, University Professor of Letters Kari Weil wrote an op-ed in The Boston Globe about a debate in 19th century France over the morality of eating horse meat. Hippophagy, or the eating of horse meat, was not legalized until the late 19th century in France, and only after a “public campaign to override objections very like the ones Americans have today.”

“…the fact that it took so much persuasion to convince the French to consider eating horse—in a dispute that exposed passionate beliefs about public health, animal rights, and social welfare—suggests why we are once again facing a public scandal over hippophagy. At heart, it is an unsettled cultural crisis about which animals we accept as moral to eat,” wrote Weil.

Weil is chair of the College of Letters.

Weil Author of Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now

Book by Kari Weil

Kari Weil, University Professor of Letters, is the author of the book, Thinking Animals: Why Animal Studies Now?, published by Columbia University Press in April 2012.

In Thinking Animals, Weil provides a critical introduction to the field of animal studies as well as an appreciation of its thrilling acts of destabilization. Examining real and imagined confrontations between human and nonhuman animals, she charts the presumed lines of difference between human beings and other species and the personal, ethical, and political implications of those boundaries.

Weil’s considerations recast the work of such authors as Kafka, Mann, Woolf, and Coetzee, and such philosophers as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, Agamben, Cixous, and Hearne, while incorporating the aesthetic perspectives of such visual artists as Bill Viola, Frank Noelker, and Sam Taylor-Wood and the “visual thinking” of the autistic animal scientist Temple Grandin. She addresses theories of pet keeping and domestication; the importance of animal agency; the intersection of animal studies, disability studies, and ethics; and the role of gender, shame, love, and grief in shaping our attitudes toward animals.

Exposing humanism’s conception of the human as a biased illusion, and embracing posthumanism’s acceptance of human and animal entanglement, Weil unseats the comfortable assumptions of humanist thought and its species-specific distinctions.

President Roth and Professor Weil Give to Financial Aid

President Michael S. Roth and Professor Kari Weil have made a $100,000 gift to Wesleyan in support of endowment for financial aid.

In announcing the gift, Joshua Boger ’73, chair of Wesleyan’s board of trustees, said:  “I can’t thank Michael and Kari enough for their generosity. Their gift represents the kind of ‘stretch gift’ that we are frequently soliciting from other alumni and their families, and I hope that all members of the Wesleyan community will follow their lead in making Wesleyan a philanthropic priority. Their support of financial aid underscores Michael’s and Kari’s superb leadership and dedication to Wesleyan’s success.”

Scholarship endowment is Wesleyan’s highest fundraising priority. Wesleyan has long sought to provide access to students regardless of their financial means.  In 2011–12, Wesleyan will spend $47 million on financial aid.

Soon after he came to Wesleyan in 2007, President Roth established a policy of eliminating loans in favor of outright grants for most students with a family income below $40,000. The policy also reduced the amount of loans required in all final aid packages by about 35 percent. This effort and all of Wesleyan’s financial aid grants, including a special scholarship program for veterans, are supported by gifts from alumni, parents and friends.

“Wesleyan’s deep and long-standing commitment to supporting financial aid reflects our belief that we should seek out the best students regardless of what their families can afford,” says President Roth. “The result is a campus community based on equality and freedom, where differences emerge from talent, ambition and creativity.”