This assignment has been an unexpected challenge. A sizeable chunk of reading in early December hadn’t solidifed any particular approach or argument in my mind. I had quite some bother getting hold of some key texts, which I can normally borrow from the University of Manchester library (my local) but none were available.
The subject librarian at the University of Exeter was tremendously helpful, and let me know that I could borrow books by post, which I had no idea was possible. Just after Christmas, Natural Enemies and Waiting for Wolves in Japan turned up, and both have helped me clarify my thoughts and ideas on the subject area.
Specifically, I’ve been very intrigued in revenge or ‘scapegoat’ killings, and representations of ‘man-eaters’ culturally and in the media (moral panics). For example, while horses are still the #1 animal ‘killer’ in Australia (followed closely by cows), headlines are more frequently grabbed by dingo encounters and ‘maulings’. What is it about dingoes that strikes a deeper chord in popular media representation? Why are animals like bears, wolves and foxes similarly represented?
This has been the focus of my research, and finding a direction has been very helpful. Picking our own essay topics is a very exciting freedom, but does take some getting used to! A part of me is painfully aware that this topic would have been better suited to the Conflict and Conservation module, but on the plus side, I’ll be well prepared for that when it comes around.
I hope to power through the remainder of this assignment quickly, with all of the groundwork (reading!) done. I’m looking forward to beginning the second compulsory module of the programme, Applied Anthrozoology, and I’m excited to explore the ways this subject relates to the ‘real world’ (and no doubt start to harbour some hopes and dreams about my future career….)