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Animal Studies Research Guide

What is animal studies? What search terms should I use to find sources on nonhuman animals within the humanities? How can I study issues of animal exploitation as an undergraduate? This research guide aims to answer these questions for students at Swem.

Photo of dog with flower necklace and caption '"Just Plain' Sam, unofficial queen' from W&M Homecoming, 1970 in Volume 72 of the Colonial EchoWhat is animal studies?

A growing body of scholarship that centers nonhuman animals in a range of contexts: historical, ethical, sociological, literary. Animal studies borrows methods and theories from disciplines in both the sciences and humanities, and is rapidly developing its own unique approach to questions of animal liberation, animality, and interspecies relationships. Because animal studies is still taking shape, scholars have different visions of how to define the field.


Get acquainted with the three main approaches to the field

Search terms for animals studies research topics

Animal liberation

(ethics and activism)
Animals in U.S. history (history and law)
Animal exploitation and industry (agriculture and game)
Species history       (breeding and zoology)
Representation of animals (art, media, and literature)
Anthrozoology (study of human/animal relations)
Posthumanism     (philosophy and cultural studies)