Speaker – Alan Rauch

About Alan Rauch…

 Alan is Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Born in Montréal, Rauch earned degrees in biology and zoology before receiving a doctorate in English Literature from Rutgers University. His most recent book, simply titled “Dolphin” is part of the Reaktion “Animal Series” and he is currently writing a book about sloths. He is also completing a book on Private Subscription Libraries in Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle. Alan’s forthcoming article “The Sukotyro: On the Extinction of a Non-Existent Animal” will be published shortly in the journal Configurations. His courses range from Victorian Literature to The Graphic Novel and have worked, in his free time, as a cartoonist and illustrator.

Learn more about Alan’s Talk…

Title: Are Imaginary Animals Real?

Description: The world is filled with imaginary animals, most of which are “real,” but many of which are created solely within the human mind. How are those animals ‘manufactured” and, more to the point, to what extent are real animals also constructions of the human mind? We can, for example, only imagine what a dodo was actually like, but if it still existed… we’d lose the most powerful image of extinction.

What do you want people to learn from your talk? Humans are “in the business” of creating and defining the animal world, and we continue that “business” as if only science were involved. But animals–and even zoology–are a product of the human imagination, and fantastic creatures owe morse to science than we care to admit. We think more logically about the world (animals) and its problems when we think more creatively about how ideas are put together.

What action items do you want people to take away from your talk? It would be nice for the audience to walk away with a more complex idea of animal life and a more engaged (and responsible) sense of their own participation in the making of animal worlds.

Learn more about Alan…

Where is your hometown? Montréal

What are your hobbies? Illustration, music, nature-walking

What are you passionate about? Music, Literature, the Environment, Animals, Social Justice

What draws you to Charlotte? My job initially, but also an ever-growing cultural scene.

What is the best compliment you’ve received? I was once called “The Wikipedia of hecklers” at a concert by a band member. But I’m often told that I know a lot about many things and that I never rest unless I’ve questioned everything I know.

What do you want to be remembered for? Helping to integrate–in a serious way–science and the humanities.

How do you push the boundaries? Never let anything rest. Look for evidence, logic, and sound arguments behind tacit or complacent assumptions about both literature and the world around us.

What does your happy place look like? I hate to say it… but a rare book library.

What is one thing that you would like to share that is unknown about you?  I have at least two children’s books fully sketched out.

Where do you see Charlotte in 5 years?A city with a palpable cultural/intellectual identity– in addition to its corporate/sports identities.

 

The most important questions…

What animal will be our future overlords? It sounds dismal. but some bacterium that is currently morphing in our bodies.