My research is in the fields of Animal Studies and Renaissance Studies. In my work on the early modern period I have written on issues as varied as meat eating, dreams, children, laughter, reason, bladder-control and animal faces. In addition, I have also done work on contemporary culture, and have looked at a range of areas where humans interact with animals, including pet ownership, experimentation, the wearing of fur, anthropomorphic children's literature and vegetarianism. I am also interested in the historiographical impact of animal studies and have had recent work on this in History and Theory, and in The Oxford Handbook on Animal Studies.
My work is interdisciplinary: I use literary as well as archival materials in research and am currently completing a book MS, with the working title ‘Quick Cattle and Dying Wishes: People and their Animals in Early Modern England’ which uses wills to trace people’s relationships with their livestock animals. I was awarded an AHRC Leadership Fellowship in 2015 to complete this book which will be published by Cornell University Press. In recent years I have also held a Lynnette S. Autrey fellowship at Rice University (2014) and a Macgeorge Fellowship at the University of Melbourne (2015).
Throughout my career I have worked collaboratively with scholars from different disciplines. In 2006, I was a member of the Animal Studies Group whose collective work Killing Animals was published by the University of Illinois Press. In 2011 I co-edited a living book, Veterinary Science: Humans, Animals and Health, for the JISC-funded project Living Books About Life with the environmental ethicist Clare Palmer (Texas A&M University). This is available to download for free on http://www.livingbooksaboutlife.org/books/Veterinary_science. And in 2012 I received a small grant from the Wellcome Trust to undertake a project with the zooarchaeologist Richard Thomas (Leicester University) on animal healthcare in the early modern period. The outcome of this project was published as a feature article in History Today in December 2012.
I am the director of the British Animal Studies Network (BASN) which holds two meetings a year, one always at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. The network brings together those with an interest in human-animal relations from a range of backgrounds from both within and beyond academia and first ran in London from March 2007 to February 2009, funded by the AHRC and Middlesex University. It is now funded by the University of Strathclyde. Details of the network can be found at http://www.britishanimalstudiesnetwork.org.uk/
I am on the editorial board of a number of journals: Society & Animals; Humanimalia: A Journal of Human/Animal Interface Studies (open access on http://www.depauw.edu/humanimalia.html) and The Animal Studies Journal (open access on http://ro.uow.edu.au/asj/). In recent years I have reviewed books for Society and Animals, History Today, Renaissance Quarterly, and The American Historical Review, and have contributed to recent BBC Radio 4 programmes Natural Histories and Natural History Heroes. A forthcoming article on the history of vegetarianism is coming out in History Today in early 2017.