Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Lisa Brown

Lisa and Simon

Biography

Lisa writes about animals in popular culture for a number of publications, and is the co-producer of Animal Inventory TV, a web show that highlights stories of the human-animal bond. She is on the Advisory board for Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, and is on the Board of Directors of the Nature in Legend and Story Society (Nilas). In 2010, Lisa is guest-editing an issue of Antennae about representations of animals in graphic novels. Lisa’s unique perspective on animals was profiled in a 2007 Boston Globe article entitled, “Monkey in the Middle.” She has lectured at a number of venues, including Tufts University, Bentley College, and the annual conference of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (2007). In 2007, Lisa received her Master’s in Animals and Public Policy at Tufts University. Her degree focused on animals in society, including ethical, legal, cultural and political dimensions of human-animal relationships. She is currently the Associate Director of Communications and Online Media at NEADS/Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans.

Lisa currently lives in Boston with one human and two non-human family members.

The writing in this blog represents only the author’s views and is not affiliated with any other person, organization, or entity.

PUBLISHED ARTICLES

Forthcoming: Guest-editor, Sept. 2010. Volume 15, Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.

Brown, Lisa G. June 2009. “An Interview with Director Geralyn Pezanoski about her film, MINE.” Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.

Brown, Lisa G. Mar 2009. “An Interview with Writer Grant Morrison about his Graphic Novel, We3.” Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.

Brown, Lisa G. Mar 2009. “An Interview with Artist Jessica Joslin.” Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture.

Brown, Lisa G. Sept 2008. “A Graphic Novel Raises Ethical Issues: Laika by Nick Abadzis” Society & Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, 16 (2008) 293-296.

ABSTRACT: In his book Laika, graphic novelist Nick Abadzis tells the story of Laika, a small terrier mutt who was shot into space in 1957. The Soviets declared Laika’s trip a success, but in 2002 it was revealed that the dog died from stress and overheating after only five hours in orbit. But Laika is not just a story; in Abadzis’ vision, it is also a visual and historical exploration of deeply complicated theoretical and ethical issues. At the heart of Abadzis’ interpretation of Laika’sjourney is the question: to what extent, if any, does human ambition outweigh a life? A central theme of the book is the perpetual cycle of abuse represented in the life and actions of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, the man who ultimately decides Laika’s fate. Abadzis intertwines the lives of these two characters to tell a story that challenges his readers to rethink and question whether the sacrifice of Laika’s life was worth the human gain.

PRESENTATIONS

Brown, Lisa G. 2008. “Deconstructing Animal Imagery” for Bentley College, Belmont, MA, April 2008; and Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, N. Grafton, MA, February 2008.

ABSTRACT: Art is one of the most profound mediums through which we generate ideas. It can teach us how to treat animals, it can mold our attitudes, it can tell us how and what to think. Animal-studies scholars, policy-analysts, welfarists and activists have an opportunity discover nuances in the way people feel about animals through movies, TV and all forms of art. Using the political science theories of Murray Edelman and the visual analysis tools of Will Eisner and Scott McCloud, I will show how animal imagery can be examined for contemporary reflections about animals in society.

Brown, Lisa G. 2007. “The Speaking Animal: Graphic Novels and the Voices of Nonhumans” for the Society for Literature, Arts and Science Conference, Portland, ME, November 1, 2007.

ABSTRACT: This paper uncovers both the suppression and expression of animal voices in contemporary graphic novels (comic books). Animals have been treated as puppets in many artistic fields, mostly used as a way to mirror and comment on human issues. Rarely are nonhumans given the freedom to comment on their own status in creative venues. Contemporary writers and artists have begun to resist the constraint of the traditional six-panel super-hero-themed comic book. This provides room for the dynamic exploration of a medium that is no longer limited to a child-like vision of the world. Comics now broach the full range of adult topics, including war, sex, love, poverty, racism, sexism, and more. As a result, animals, too, have become more three-dimensional. While nonhumans continue to be forced into the role as the mouthpiece of humans, they are also occasionally afforded communication in their own right as sentient, sapient beings. In some cases, authors even attempt to explore the minds of the animals they depict, placing their characters in a contemporary context in order to comment on the state of animals in our world. Still, there remains a fuzzy line between authors who reflexively rely on speciesist manipulations of their animal-characters as pseudo-humans, and those who let the animals speak truthfully for themselves. By extracting the implicit meanings in their text and drawings, it is possible to glean the author’s cultural coding of animals as both mirrors for humans and as inherently valuable beings.

Photo by photographer Nicole V. Hill

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