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In his 1620 masterpiece, Novum Organum, Francis Bacon lamented that “man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocency and from his dominion over Creation. Both of these losses however can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by arts and science.” Bacon’s remarks are striking because their focus on human dominion over the natural world hinges on the enduring relation between arts and sciences. Who are we in relation to biological innovations that alter life? How do these innovations challenge our criteria for determining differences between the human animal and other species? What are the implications of scientific and technological discoveries and practices for our place within a natural world, if a “natural” world can still be said to exist?

The Human and the Nonhuman explores the unstable border between humans and animals and the issue of human dominance in the world.  How do we understand our relations to other animals?   What are the proper limits to human manipulation of the natural world?  Is it ethical to control, harm, or even create other species?  And how can the study of philosophy, history, language, and culture complement scientific inquiry into such questions?

Distinguished Lectures

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Altman Faculty

The Altman Teaching Laboratory “Human Dominion in the Americas"

August 21, 2012 2:15 PM
Upham 262
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Hal Herzog
Professor of Psychology Western Carolina University

Animals, Ethics, and the Problem of Moral Consistency

September 20, 2012 4:00 PM
Benton 102
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Dan Prior
Associate Professor of History Miami University

Grass Routes: Pathways to Eurasian Cultures

November 29, 2012 4:00 PM
Miami University Art Museum
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Cary Wolfe
Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Rice University

The Biopolitics of Animal Bodies

February 7, 2013 4:00 PM
Pearson 128
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Altman Faculty

“Animals, Cyborgs, and Us”: Film Course and Series

March 20, 2013 6:00 PM
Art Building 100
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Hefner Zoological Museum Staff

Dogs and Humans

April 10, 2013 9:00 AM
Upham 100
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Thane Maynard and John Kamanga Ole Ntetiyian, Karen Rader, Kari Weil & Marina Zurkow

2012-2013 Altman Symposium: Thinking Interspecies: Conversations about Human-Nonhuman Boundaries

April 10, 2013 4:00 PM
MacMillan Great Room
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Marina Zurkow

Friends and Enemies

April 11, 2013 4:00 PM
MacMillan Great Room

2012-13 Altman Fellows

Amanda Kay McVety

Amanda Kay McVety is Assistant Professor of History at Miami University. A specialist in the history of U.S. foreign relations, she is interested in the consequences of human-directed development on the nonhuman. Her book, Enlightened Aid: U.S. Development as Foreign Policy in Ethiopia (Oxford 2012), examines the intellectual and political origins of Point Four, the first American aid program for the “underdeveloped world,” and its operations in Ethiopia.

José Amador

José Amador is Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies and History at Miami University. A cultural historian of medicine, race, and empire, he is the co-editor of a volume entitled Cultura, memoria y vida cotidiana en Cuba, 1878-1917 and the author of articles on popular culture, race, and intellectual history in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean. He has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Center for Caribbean Studies.

2012-13 Student Fellows

Megan Teeples

Megan Teeples, a zoology and English literature double major from Auburn Ohio, is interested in writing a thesis comparing the scientific breakthroughs of recent decades and their subsequent effect on literature. She is in the Honors Program at Miami University and hopes to attend medical school following her college career.

Abby Sapadin

Abby Sapadin, a senior from Naperville, Illinois, is a music and anthropology double major with a premedical focus. In 2011, she held the George Barron Memorial Music Scholarship. She holds positions as the Miami University Steel Band co-publicity chair and an Honors Undergraduate Associate for the course “Global Music for the iPod,” and is also preparing for her upcoming senior percussion recital.

Steven Lakin

Steven Lakin, originally from Carmel, Indiana, is a senior majoring in zoology, philosophy, and biochemistry. His primary academic interest is animal bioethics. He has been a Dean’s Scholar and Undergraduate Summer Scholar. He was recently named a Linda Singer Scholar for his work in philosophy.

Miranda Wood

Miranda Wood is a senior anthropology and comparative religion double major from Carmel, Indiana whose academic interests include the Anthropology of Religion and Medical Anthropology. In June 2012, Miranda completed research in Gozo, Malta on the relationship between the Maltese Roman Catholic Church and the Maltese Divorce Referendum of 2011.

Brian Sopher

Brian Sopher is a sophomore philosophy major from Columbus, Ohio, whose interests include Marxism, the late Wittgenstein, and ideology and political philosophy generally. He has written works on the intersection of language and ideology, for which he won the 2011-2012 Linguistics Department Award.

Caroline Heller

Caroline Heller, a master’s student in English literature, is writing a thesis on the relationship of writing to bios, or life, and forms of biopower in Romantic poetry. She recently presented a paper entitled “Beyond Species and Nation: Writing Life and Land in Charlotte Smith’s Beachy Head” at the British Women Writers Conference.

2012-13 Altman Scholars

Marguerite S. Shaffer

Marguerite S. Shaffer is the Director of American Studies and an Associate Professor of American studies and History at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. She is the author of See America First: Tourism and National Identity, 1880-1940 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001) and editor of Public Culture: Diversity, Democracy, and Community in the United States, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). Her co-edited volume, Third Nature: Reconsidering the Boundaries Between Nature and Culture, is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Daniel Prior

Daniel Prior is Associate Professor of History. His books include the first translation in any language of the complete text of Saghïmbay Orozbaq uulu’s The Memorial Feast for Kökötöy Khan: A Kirghiz Epic Poem in the Manas Tradition(London: Penguin, 2022); and The Šabdan Baatır Codex: Epic and the Writing of Northern Kirghiz History (Leiden: Brill, 2013). His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Slavic–Eurasian Research Center at Hokkaido University. His current research in comparative mythology examines culture apart from mass societies and mass communication.

Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr.

Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. is Associate Professor of Philosophy and faculty affiliate of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. She has published articles on the social, political, and ethical dimensions of knowing in such journals as Hypatia, Political Theory, Social Epistemology, and Social Philosophy Today. She is a founding member of the Association for Feminist Epistemology, Metaphysics, Methodologies, and Science Studies, and she participated in the Future of Minority Studies Research Project as a Mellon Fellow.

Linda Marchant

Linda Marchant is the founding and current chair of the Department of Anthropology at Miami University. Her research interests include behavioral primatology, laterality of function (handedness), African apes, and visual anthropology. She is the author of more than 60 chapters and journal articles and co-edited Behavioural Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and Great Ape Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1996). Most recently she was a Visiting Fellow, Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, and Research Associate Darwin College, University of Cambridge (2009-2010).

Kristina Gehrman

Kristina Gehrman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Miami University. Her research brings together questions about nature, moral values, and human action, and it ranges from inquiry into the continuing relevance of Aristotle’s ethics to the problem of human bias in philosophical theories of action. During the Altman Program, she is exploring what it means to say that something is “natural” and whether values are features of the natural world. She received her doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2010 and recently presented her work at Northwestern’s Society for the Theory of Ethics and Politics.

Yu-Fang Cho

Yu-Fang Cho is Associate Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a founding member of the Asian/ Asian American Studies Program at Miami University. Her research explores how cultural production mediates contradictory subject relations within the context of U.S. expansionism. Her articles have appeared in American Quarterly, Transnational American Studies, The Journal of Asian American Studies, Arizona Quarterly, Meridians, and Oxford University Press’s Popular Print Culture Series. Her book, Uncoupling American Empire: Cultural Politics of Deviance and Unequal Difference, 1890-1910 (forthcoming from SUNY) examines how literary and popular texts reframe narratives of empire as domestic social conflicts.

Kimberly Hamlin

Kimberly Hamlin focuses on the intersections of gender and science in U.S. history.  She is the author of From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America (Chicago, 2014), as well as articles on Darwin, sexology, and the origins of the Miss America Pageant. Her essays have won prizes from the History of Science Society and the Nineteenth Century Studies Society.