CFP: "SMART Animals" (Amsterdam; December 6-8, 2017)

Animal Minds Between Narrative and Cognition
Workshop at the international conference ‘SMART Animals’
at the University of Amsterdam (December 6-8, 2017)
Date of the workshop: December 6
Submission deadline July 15, 2017
Workshop description
Psychologists working in the wake of Jerome Bruner (1991) have argued that narrative is a key tool for constructing human selves and identities. This workshop confronts the challenges involved in engaging with nonhuman animals’ selves in narrative form. Through what stylistic and formal strategies can narrative encapsulate the lived experience of animal bodies and minds? What are the differences between fictional narratives (in literature and film) that feature animal protagonists and accounts of animal experience and behavior in scientific writing or nonfiction (such as Charles Foster’s Being a Beast)? What interpretive strategies are readers likely to adopt when engaging with these animal narratives? How, and to what extent, can narrative shape people’s beliefs and ethical views about animal life? Finally, what is the epistemological value of animal-centered narratives? How, if at all, can they contribute to the scientific understanding of animal minds?
These are questions that have been raised, more or less explicitly, in multiple areas of the humanities and the social and natural sciences: from David Herman’s (2014) “narratology beyond the human” to Bernaerts et al.’s (2014) account of “nonhuman narrators” to work on the phenomenology of human animal-interactions (Warkentin 2012). But these remain scattered and fragmentary approaches; no head-on attempt has been made so far to interrogate the potential and the limitations of animal narratives from a perspective informed by the mind sciences. This workshop will provide a forum for such debates; we specifically encourage researchers working with scientifically oriented approaches to animal minds to join the discussion.
We invite proposals for 15 min presentations from multiple disciplinary perspectives (literary studies, animal studies, media studies, philosophy etc.), informed by the mind sciences. When submitting a proposal, please include a title, an abstract of ca. 250 words, and a short bio. Please send your proposal via e-mail to the two workshop organizers by July 15. The organizers will get back to you by August 15. 
Confirmed workshop speakers
  • Alexa Weik von Mossner, University of Klagenfurt
  • Hans-Johann Glock, University of Zurich
  • Jon Hegglund, Washington State University
Workshop organizers
Marco Caracciolo is an Assistant Professor of English at Ghent University in Belgium.
Stephan Besser is Assistant Professor of Modern Dutch literature at the University of Amsterdam.
This conference is organized by SMART Cognitive Science (University of Amsterdam) 
full name / name of organization: 
Marco Caracciolo
contact email: 



Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 19:00


Friday, December 8, 2017 - 19:00

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About us

ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.