On September 9, Abel Alves presented “Images of Animals in the Early Modern Spanish Empire” at University College London. The presentation was part of a daylong symposium on the visual representation of nonhuman animals in literature, art, film and other forms of documentation entitled “Animals in Visual Hispanism” organized by Jo Evans of the University College London and Sarah Wright of the Royal Holloway University of London.
Aside from the organizers’ respective talks on animals in the films of Luis Buñuel and the muteness of dogs in recent Chilean films, John Beusterien, author of Canines in Cervantes and Velázquez: An Animal Studies Reading of Early Modern Spain, presented on Spanish efforts to belittle the Americas by portraying the armadillo as a horse. Three other talks by Carrie Hamilton, Lourdes Orozco and Ryan Prout rounded out the day, which also included discussion with an audience contributing much to the growing field of animal studies in the global Hispanic world. Audience participants included Helen Cowie, author of Conquering Nature in Spain and Its Empire, 1750-1850, and Stanford University graduate student Mackenzie Cooley, who is digitally mapping the appearances of nonhuman animals in the early modern relaciones geográficas.
After the symposium, Professor Alves spent Saturday touring London’s Bloomsbury district and visiting the British Museum.