20122020

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Personal profile

Research interests

I am an animal and environmental historian, working primarily on human engagements with the non-human animal world across the nineteenth and twientieth centuries. 

Present research interests:

I'm currently working on a project that confronts the history of the so-called 'nocturnal problem': the challenge of encountering and understanding nature by night. 'Nights on Earth' investigates nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientific and popular engagement with animals that dwell in dark environments. Focusing on caves, deep sea, the poles and 'everyday' night-time environments more broadly, the project is structured around a number of key research questions:

1. how have new technologiees allowed naturalists to colonise the night in search of the secrets of animal bodies and behaviours?

2. what have been the consequences of this colonisation of the dark on animals and environments?

3. how have understandings of the ways in which animals sense the world in darkness changed over time and how did this impact on changing notions of what it meant to be human?

As a side project, I have collaborated with the University of Bristol Speleological Society to conduct oral histories with their members about their memories of learning to navigate the dark worlds beneath our feet. 

A sight-impaired historian, I also have an activist and intellectual interest in disability studies. My work on dark environments is also, in some ways, about what it means for vision to be obscured and the adapatations - of humans and animals - that allow them to survive and thrive in those conditions. 

Previous research

My doctoral research focused on the animal and environmental histories of Bristol Zoo Gardens from 1835 through to the early twenty-first century. This work represents the first extensive academic history of a provincial zoo, examining the vast array of human relationships with animals and their wild worlds in modernity. My work engaged with themes at the very forefront of animal, environmental, and imperial histories. In particular, I examined the human commodification of nature, its transformation into objects of science and spectacle, the creation of ‘almost-people’, animals in death (and dying), and human understandings of the world in an era of ecological impoverishment. Most significantly, I worked on the ways in which captve creatures might be said to have 'agency' in a context often perceived to be wholly oppressive. This work followed on from my earlier study of the phenomenon of celebrity beasts in Victorian culture, and human-nature conflict on the Australian frontier in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Also emerging form these interests have been a conference on the theme of Animals and Empire in 2013; the curation of an exhibition by the same name for the Animal History Museum in Los Angeles in 2014; and work as part of the REACT Object Sandbox cohort.

Media:

Recent media engagements include appearances on BBC Radio 2 and 3, BBC Points West, and BBC Inside Out West. I have previously appeared on BBC 4’s Timeshift and consulted for an episode of Great British Railway Journeys. Ialso consulted on the BBC's 'What are Zoos for?' website.

Teaching

I am an experienced Higher Education teacher. During the 2019-20 session I shall be teaching

  • War and Society (Yr 1)
  • Wild Things: humans and other animals in the modern world (Yr 2)
  • Filming the Past (Yr 3)

In the past I have taught:

  • Approaching the Past (Yr 1)
  • Introduction to the British Empire (yr 1)
  • Rethinking History (Yr. 2)
  • Britain's Cold War (Yr 1)
  • Travels in Space and Time (Yr 2)
  • The American West: An Environmental History (Yr 2)
  • Bringing History (and Historians) Down to Earth (Yr 3)
  • Genocide (Yr3)
  • History, Law and Memory: The Holocaust on Trial (Yr3)

I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and supervised individual studies. I am presently supervising an MPhil student on histories of urban travel.

I am available for Masters and Doctoral research supervision and particularly invite research degree proposals on the following subjects:

 - animal history.

 - senses and environments.

 - scientific and technological cultures.

 - tourism.

 - nineteenth and twentieth-century popular cultures.

 - disability histories.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • IASworkshop
  • Centre for Environmental Humanities
  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science
  • Cabot Institute City Futures Research
  • Cabot Institute Environmental Change Research

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Projects

Research Output

Animal History in the Dead of Night

Flack, A. J. P., 2020, (Unpublished).

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

Frogs and Feeling Communities: A Study in History of Emotions and Environmental History

Gaynor, A., Broomhall, S. & Flack, A., 30 Jan 2020, In : Environment and History.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Open Access
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  • 17 Downloads (Pure)

    Activities

    European Society for Environmental History Biennial Conference 2019

    Andrew J P Flack (Participant)

    24 Aug 2019

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

    The World Writ Small: Histories of the British Zoo'

    Andrew J P Flack (Advisor)

    20 Jun 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesPublic talk, debate, discussion

    Going to the Dogs: Animal and Disability Studies

    Andrew J P Flack (Participant)

    13 Apr 2018

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesInvited talk

    Supervised Work

    The Natures of the Beasts: An Animal History of Bristol Zoo since 1835

    Author: Flack, A. J. P., 2014

    Supervisor: Coates, P. (Supervisor) & Cole, T. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)