2016 Conference Details

SSCE 2016 Annual Conference

Christians and Other Animals

Westcott House, Cambridge
9th-11th September 2016

Animals have rarely loomed larger as a topic of Christian concern. In Pope Francis's 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he emphasized St Francis’s concern for the humblest creatures, stated that all creatures were on a journey with humans towards the common point of arrival that is God, and that cruelty towards animals was contrary to human dignity. Soon afterwards, major US evangelical churches, including the Southern Baptists, signed up to the new statement on animals ‘Every Living Thing’. Global per capita consumption of animals continues to rise, with 77 billion birds and mammals and 2.5-6.8 trillion fish killed for food in 2014. Farmed animal practice continues to become more intensive, half of all fish now derive from fish farms, and new warnings have been issued about wild fish stocks. Use of animals on this scale is recognized as problematic for greenhouse gas emissions, human food and water security, environmental degradation, antibiotic resistance, and other aspects of human health.

Attending to the ethics of human practice in relation to other animals in a Christian context is therefore timely and important. We invite papers that treat fundamental aspects of constructing the human and non-human in a theological context, that interrogate theological and philosophical moral theory in relation to animals, or that treat particular ethical issues in relation to human use of animals. We hope that the conference will set a new benchmark for Christian discussion of this topic, and will be a valuable opportunity for participants to engage in dialogue concerning the many theoretical and practical challenges it raises.

Plenary Speakers included:

  • Ellen Davis (Duke Divinity School)
  • Carol Adams (writer and activist, author of, "The Sexual Politics of Meat")
  • David Clough (University of Chester and SSCE President)
  • Donovan Schaefer (Oxford)
  • Professor Diana Donald (curator for art exhibit at the Fitzwilliam)

Conference Documents:

Annual General Meeting Documents:

Conference Art Exhibition

​We were pleased to co-host a special exhibition curated by Professor Diana Donald in the Study Room at the Fitzwilliam Museum on the conference theme on Friday Sep. 9. Art works exhibited included: 

About the exhibition:

The chosen images cluster round three broad themes, which exemplify varied and even contrasting views of animals – shaped by Christian doctrine, but also by the individual interpretations of the artists concerned. 

  • the Genesis stories of the Garden of Eden, the fall of man, and Noah’s Flood, which were foundational for Christian views of the human-animal relationship
  • animals as the companions of the saints and participants in their miracles
  • animals as ‘the other’ – symbolising strange or demonic forces, or the grandeur of wild nature, as described in the Book of Job.

Works to be shown include:

  1. Roelant Savery, The Creation of Birds, 1619. Oil on panel.
  2. Lucas van Leyden, The Creation of Eve, 1529. Engraving.)
  3. William Strang, The Creation of Eve, an illustration to Milton’s Paradise Lost, 1895. Etching
  4. Johann König, Adam and Eve in Paradise, c.1629. Oil on copper.
  5. Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1504. Engraving.
  6. Jan Saenredam after Abraham Bloemaert, Adam Naming the Animals, 1604, in a series of Genesis scenes. Engraving.
  7. Rembrandt, Adam and Eve Tempted by the Devil, 1638. Etching.
  8. Jan Sadeler after Maarten de Vos, Cain Tilling the Ground, Abel as ShepherdThe Sacrifices of Cain and Abel; and Cain, his Wife and Son Enoch, 1583. Etching and engraving.
  9. Marco da Ravenna after Raphael, Noah’s Sacrifice, c.1520-7. Engraving.
  10. Cornelis Cort after Maerten van Heemskerck, Noah’s Sacrifice after the Flood, c.1560. Engraving.
  11. Samuel Palmer, The Sleeping Shepherd: Morning, c.1857. Watercolour with body colour, gum arabic and ink.
  12. Albrecht Dürer, Saint Jerome in His Study, 1514. Engraving.
  13. Rembrandt, Saint Jerome Reading, 1634Etching.
  14. Guiseppe Maria Rolli, The Miracle of the Ass, late 17th or early 18th century. Pen and brown ink, brown wash over black chalk.
  15. Jacques Philippe le Bas, Saint Anthony of Padua Preaching to the Birds, 1735. Etching and engraving.
  16. Martin Schongauer, Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons, c.1470. Engraving.
  17. William Blake, ‘Behemoth and Leviathan’, from Illustrations to the Book of Job, 1825-6. Engraving, hand-coloured.
  18. Odilon Redon, ‘Des peuples divers . . . ‘, from The Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1896. Lithograph.

About our curator:

‘Professor Diana Donald is an art historian who now works on human-animal relations in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is the author of Picturing Animals in Britain, 1750-1850 (2007); Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts (2009); and The Art of Thomas Bewick (2013). She is presently working on a book for Manchester University Press, on the role played by women in animal protection in nineteenth-century Britain.’