Thursday, October 27, 2016

nimals in the Archives
October 27–28, 2016
University of Pennsylvania


This two-day symposium brings leading figures in animal history together with Philadelphia-based archivists to theorize the historical traces that animals leave behind. The symposium focuses on how animals come to be represented textually, visually, and materially in historical archives—both dead (as in leather bindings, parchment made from animal skins, iron-gall inks, hide and bone glues, and taxidermy specimens) and very much alive (as in bookworms, silverfish, mice, and other archival “pests” that eat the bindings, adhesives, and other substances in library and archival collections).

By thinking through the stakes of nonhuman animal representation in archives, the symposium addresses both the history of human-animal relationships across time and the theory and practice of history and archival classification. It aims to provide a broader view of the human past and to reconsider the anthropocentric biases of conventional historical practice, while also exploring methodological questions about the possibility of history beyond the human.

More information here:


Thursday, October 27, 2016 | 6:00–8:00pm
Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

Screening of the documentary film “Matto Grosso, the Great Brazilian Wilderness” (1931).

In the late 1920s, Eldridge Reeves Johnson, inventor and former corporate magnate, developed a relationship with the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology that would indirectly result in pioneering work in film technology history. In 1930, Captain Vladimir Perfilieff, a Russian-born artist and adventurer, and John S. Clarke, friend and former classmate of Johnson, asked him to fund a zoological and ethnographic expedition to be undertaken and filmed in the Mato Grosso plateau of Brazil. “Matto Grosso” is the result of this joint expedition, which documents the people, animals, and environment of the region. Penn Museum archivists will introduce and contextualize the film.

The 49-minute screening will be followed by a roundtable from 7:00 to 8:00pm on the topic of animals and film.

For more information, see:

Friday, October 28, 2016 | 10:00am–5:00pm
LGBT Center, 3907 Spruce Street

A series of talks will further explore the theme of “Animals in the Archives.” In the morning and the afternoon there will be presentations by five speakers: Bruce Holsinger (University of Virginia), Iris Montero (Brown University), Rebecca Woods (University of Toronto), Nigel Rothfels (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee) and Neel Ahuja (University of California, Santa Cruz). At 1:00pm we will hold a roundtable on “The Materiality of Animal Archives” featuring scholars and Philadelphia-based archivists.

The symposium will be followed by a public reception at 5:30pm.


Organized by Etienne Benson, Carolyn Fornoff, and Zeb Tortorici.

Sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Penn Humanities Forum, Penn Year of Media, South Asia Center, Department of English, Department of History and Sociology of Science, and Department of History.

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