Affect theory encourages us to think about how we interact with each other and the world along registers that are not reducible to language. This has suggested to some scholars that affect theory can also be used to better understand the experience of animals. This talk explores affect theory, animal studies, and the lifeworld tradition of phenomenology. It suggests that animals, like humans, have rich religious worlds that are shaped by pre-linguistic textures of affect. This means that animals can be thrown into a state of trauma by being deprived of these lifeworlds. In light of this, the talk considers the ethical implications of the modern factory farm system, particularly the practice of mass confinement.

Speaker: Donovan Schaefer, Ph.D., is the departmental lecturer in science and religion at the University of Oxford. Schaefer held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Haverford College. He is the author of Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power (Duke University Press, 2015).

This event is part of the The Future of Being Human, an initiative of the McDevitt Core Professorship and McDevitt Center.

In light of ecological crisis, rapid technological change, and widespread social alienation, what is the future of being human? Join a multidisciplinary conversation about what it means to be human in the 21st century.