EXPERIENCING ANIMAL MINDS: An Anthology of Animal-Human Encounters

Edited by Julie A. Smith and Robert W. Mitchell. Columbia University Press, 2013

In these multidisciplinary essays, academic scholars and animal experts explore the nature of animal minds and the methods humans conventionally and unconventionally use to understand them. The collection features chapters by scholars working in psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, literary studies, and art, as well as chapters by and about people who live and work with animals, including the founder of a sanctuary for chickens, a fur trapper, a popular canine psychologist, a horse trainer, and an art photographer who captures everyday contact between humans and their animal companions.

Divided into five sections, the collection first considers the ways that humans live with animals and the influence of cohabitation on their perceptions of animals’ minds. It follows with an examination of anthropomorphism as both a guide and hindrance to mapping animal consciousness. Chapters next examine the effects of embodiment on animals’ minds and the role of animal-human interembodiment on humans’ understandings of animals’ minds. Final sections identify historical representations of difference between human and animal consciousness and their relevance to pre-established cultural attitudes, as well as the ways that representations of animals’ minds target particular audiences and sometimes produce problematic outcomes.

Julie A. Smith is associate professor emeritus of the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. Robert W. Mitchell is Foundation Professor in the Department of Psychology and coordinator of the animal studies program at Eastern Kentucky University.

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