I left New York City Friday afternoon for Baltimore for the second stage of my six-city, three week itinerary. My next update will focus on my activities in Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington DC during this week. On Saturday, I leave Baltimore for the final stage in my itinerary in Portland, ME and Boston, which I will also share with you later.
Just three weeks to go before I leave the UK for the USA on Wednesday, October 29. This trip in support of my animal rights work and to promote my book, Growl, is made possible by the generous support of many people in my recent Indiegogo campaign.
I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who generously contributed and made possible this three-week long working visit to the East Coast. Thank you!
Further, your support has kept me very busy here in the UK with several speaking engagements promoting Growl, including at the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg, London Vegfest, 2nd Annual Humanities in Public Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University, and the forthcoming inaugural launch conference of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University.
A pleasure from Growl I didn’t anticipate is receiving feedback from readers. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did think about negative comments and how I should react to them. Of which, I’m pleased to say I haven’t received any ….. yet! So, the favourable comments come as a very pleasant surprise, which goes along with the kind reactions I’m receiving from the public readings and talks I’m currently making. One comment from someone who asks to be known as ‘Ireene V’ has given me her permission to share it with you here.
We met at the animal rights conference in Luxembourg. Me and my husband bought your book and you asked as to send you a feedback after reading it. I did read it and liked it very much. I liked that it was written on a personal level, not just theoretical. Although it is important to read theoretical works about animal rights, from time to time one just needs to hear about personal stories and struggles to know how to cope better, to know that someone else has had a similar experience, that someone else has felt the same. So thank you for that! After leaving the conference I woke up next morning and went straight to the Misanthropic Bunker. I haven’t really experienced that before but the contrast between the “real world” and the atmosphere of the conference was too much to handle. I started reading the “Growl” and it helped me address these feelings. I also appreciated the history and the background information of British animal rights movement. I am very interested in history of veganism and animal rights. I share your view on non-violence. I think it is extremely important that animal rights movement differs from animal abusers and violence should not be accepted. As I don’t have any companion animals I haven’t felt that magical connection with animals yet. I do hope to experience it someday. I am sorry there are too many thoughts to write down coherently. But all and all I do think it is an important book and I do hope people will read it. I am definitely going to recommend it to my friends.
In six weeks time on Thursday, October 30 I will be in New York City as the guest of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University making a presentation about Growl and the issues that I raise in my book. This date marks the beginning of a three-week working visit to the East Coast of the USA.
My recent Indiegogo campaign helped to raise the funds needed to make possible the following itinerary. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who generously contributed. Thank you!
Thursday, October 30: Animal Studies Initiative at New York University
Friday, October 31: Interview with Caryn Hartglass of REAL Radio
The presentation that I made at the recent International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg is now available to watch. It was called ‘Animal Witness’ at the conference but is given the name ‘Why Animals and Their Well-Being Matter to Us’ on YouTube but more importantly it reflects the essence of what I have to say in Growl.
There’s something fascinating about the so-called Cambridge spies: Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, and Kim Philby. They all came from the upper middle class and met at Cambridge University in the 1930s. They went onto hold various powerful positions in society while acting as double agents for the U.K. and U.S.S.R. or worked in the Foreign Office or for the Windsors as the Surveyor of the King’s Pictures.
I’m not delusional about the severe damage the Cambridge spies caused to Britain and its security as well as the deaths of many hundreds of people that their espionage resulted in. Nonetheless, I cannot but help find appealing the heroic, romanticised view of the Cambridge spies as they’re presented in, for example, the plays of Alan Bennett (e.g., ‘An Englishman Abroad’ about Burgess and ‘A Question of Attribution’ about Blunt) and in the telly series ‘Cambridge Spies.’ Not quite the same thing but I keep promising myself to read John le Carre’s spy novels but have yet to get round to doing so.
What makes this book different from the many others about Philby is that it’s about his friendships and particularly with Nicholas Elliott, who, like Philby, was a spy in MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service. What’s fascinating is how Philby was able to hide his spying for the Russians from his wives and closest of colleagues and friends who all knew him intimately. There is, of course, a lot more to say about all of this but this briefest of descriptions will have to suffice.
There’s one aspect to the Philby story that stands out above all others, which made me very angry as I read the book. Philby was protected by his class because it couldn’t be possible that ‘one of them’ could be a traitor. This privileged status ensured that for years Philby, while in our employ, spied for the Soviets unchallenged.
Two months on from the publication of Growl by Lantern Books and I pause to list some of what’s happened and what’s forthcoming.
Hastings Independent free newspaper says Growl is ‘fascinating and insightful book’
Historian Hilda Kean says Growl ‘carefully debunks the idea that real change in the position of non-human animals can occur simply by individuals altering their lifestyle’
Humane Research Council recommends Growl in its Summer Reading List
VegFund says ‘Any activist, new or seasoned, can learn from Stallwood’s experiences and apply them to his or her own advocacy’
Brian May’s Soapbox promotes Growl
Responsible Eating and Living radio interview with Caryn Hartglass
Growl Launch Party at vegan Moose’s Kitchen in St Leonards on Sea attracts more than 35 people
Mark Hawthorne online interview ‘Kim Stallwood: Helping People Help Animals’
Hastings Online Times says Growl is a ‘fascinating insight into the experiences of a man who has dedicated most of his life to animal advocacy and protection’
Speaking inquiries received from Finland, Poland, and Australia
Professor Marita Giménez-Candela, Director, Master in Animal Law and Society, adds Growl to the recommended reading list for the Graduate Course ‘Law and Animal Welfare’ and Master Program ‘Animal Law and Society’ at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Presented Growl at the VegFest in Bristol in May
Presenting Growl at the London Vegan Festival, the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg, and London VegFest
Launch party for Growl at the inaugural conference of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University in October
Presenting Growl at the 2nd Annual Humanities in Public Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University in October
US East Coast book tour late October to mid November includes NYU Animals and Society Initiative, Business Ethics and Environmental Law classes at Pace University, and GWU Law School
More than 35 guests celebrated the launch of Growl at Moose’s Kitchen on Friday, July 4.
The book launch party also took pride in the vibrant vegan community in St Leonards on Sea and Hastings.
Party goers included folks from the Hastings Vegan Dining Club, local creatives, and friends and neighbours. Zelly Restorick, who profiled me in Hastings Online Times, was among the guests.
Jane, Renee and Davina
Moose’s Kitchen ‘serves healthy, home-cooked meals, made with LOVE: Local, Organic, Vegan and Ethical ingredients.’ Moose and her colleague, Paul, kindly donated and served a variety of starters to the party.
Another local vegan business, Hastings Brewery, generously gave a keg of their Galaxy Pale Ale.
Me saying a few words about Growl standing next to a portrait of Moose in her vegan cafe.
And yet another local vegan business, 1066 Cake Stand, baked a special ‘Growl’ cake! Trevor from the Bay Tree House–the family run vegan hotel in Hastings–also joined in the celebrations.
I welcomed everyone to the party and read part of the section from Growl called ‘Altruistic Love’ (p. 147-149).
My adoption by Boobaa and Honey transformed the anger I felt about animal exploitation through the Magical Connection. My altruistic love for Boobaa and Honey helped me to be a little more at peace with myself and with my presence in the world. These little dogs put flesh and blood on my understanding of what animal rights meant.
It was great to launch Growl with its first party with friends in the town where I now live. For many of us, Hastings and St Leonards on Sea is the vegan capital of the world.
Moose’s Kitchen in St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex hosts the launch party for Growl. Photo: Paul Knight
Packed house at Growl Launch Party at Moose’s Kitchen. Photo: Paul Knight
I’m reading Growl for the first time as a book. I’ve read it before umpteen times in various incarnations as a manuscript, a work in progress (or not in progress, as the case invariably was). But now that it’s published, holding the finished book in my hands, turning the pages, reading along the lines, well, it’s all a bit strange. It was also strange to see a box of Growls waiting to be opened sitting on the dining room table. All that effort, I thought, grief, anguish, hard work, frustration, self-doubt, self-pity, anxiety…..sitting there in a box.
Of course, it’s all that and much more.
It’s a finished, printed book with my name as the author on the cover. Holding it in my hands for the first time, flipping through the pages, well, it didn’t seem real. ‘Aren’t you excited?’ I was asked repeatedly in the last weeks knowing that this moment was imminent. ‘No,’ I said. And, indeed, I wasn’t. It was anticlimactic. It was surreal. It wasn’t a moment I savoured. There wasn’t any celebration.
It didn’t help that my partner, Gary, was struggling with a horrid cold after returning from two weeks in the U.S. It didn’t help that I also felt I was coming down with the same bug. As it turns out, I was but not as badly. It didn’t help that what has taken to write, produce, and publish Growl has been years, if not decades of work. And now it seems that the book I held was no longer my own. It had a life of its own.
People, I realised, are going to make what they will out of it. And I, the author, will be judged accordingly. Rightly. Or wrongly. For there are things said in Growl which won’t make some people happy. In fact, it’s going to make them angry and, in some cases, further right me off as a sell-out. Others won’t like what I write about their animal rights work. Most likely, there isn’t anything I could say or do that would keep them happy anyway. So, I’ve prepared myself with saying,
You don’t have to like Growl. No one, least of all me, is forcing you or anyone else to agree with me.
At the Bristol VegFest last weekend, one man posed a question after my Growl-themed presentation,well, he made a statement to the effect that people are all shits and we’re all doomed. Tempted as I was to agree with him, I soft peddled it a bit by saying that I understood how he felt and mumbled something about that that way of thinking wasn’t going to get us anywhere. But what I really wanted to say was, ‘Why the fuck did you bother coming to the VegFest if that’s how you felt? Next question, please!’
It’s not going to bother me if people disagree with what I have to say. In fact, I feel even more emboldened to speak the truth as I see it. But if there are truly reasonable opportunities for respectful, rational, and reasonable debate, well, I welcome them.
Meanwhile, as I continue to read Growl–the book, it strangely feels that I’m following the thoughts of someone else but who is a lot like me. Yes, of course, I wrote it, and many people influenced and helped me along the way. I had the great fortune to work with finest of editors, Martin Rowe, who challenged me to do better. But I recall what I’ve heard authors said. Once it’s published, a book has a life of its own.
Have a good trip, Growl. It’s been (mostly) nice knowing you. Now, it’s time for me to take my next voyage of discovery–except that Growl is demanding its promotion and marketing.
The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights by Stephen F. Eisenman
Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and author of The Cry of Nature — Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion; 2013). This is a fascinating read, which, I believe, deserves the attention of advocates and scholars alike who care deeply about animals, and why I wanted to interview him.
1. What inspired you to write The Cry of Nature – Art and the Making of Animal Rights?
I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and a vegan for about five. In addition, about ten years ago, I started to become engaged in the relatively new research field of Animal Studies.
But the real impetus for The Cry of Nature came in 2008. After publishing a short book about the photographs made at Abu Ghraib prison, (The Abu Ghraib Effect, 2007) I realized that the issue of human rights and animal rights are essentially the same! Animals like humans are sensitive and empathetic. Both require love, freedom and companionship to thrive. Yet both have been systematically denied these things by kings, tyrants, presidents and regular people willing to look the other way. In addition, the great artworks we see in museums generally show dead animals or slabs of meat as both natural and beautiful! I wanted to write a book that would make that violence strange again. I also wanted to highlight the work of artists who rejected violence, anthropocentrism and the turning of sentient beings into mere commodities.
2. The book’s subtitle is ‘Art and the Making of Animal Rights.’ How did artists help inaugurate the animal rights movement?
In the 17th C, the painter Rembrandt rejected the Cartesian distinction between body and soul, and between human and animal. He showed the latter – even in death – as possessing of a soul. So did William Hogarth and George Stubbs in the 18th century, and the French Romantic, Theodore Gericault in the 19th. Hogarth in particular was cited by the philosophers of the late 18th Century who started the modern animal rights movement. Without Hogarth, John Oswald and Joseph Ritson – both pioneers of animal rights – would never have written their books. By the way, the title of my book derives from Oswald’s amazing, radical, but little-read 1791 manifesto, The Cry of Nature – or An Appeal to Mercy and to Justice on Behalf of the Persecuted Animals.
3. Which works by Hogarth do you mean?
William Hogarth, The First Stage of Cruelty, 1751
There is of course, his great portrait of his pug dog, Trump! But more important are the great engravings called The Four Stages of Cruelty. The first two prints are a veritable encyclopedia of animal cruelty and were intended to shock the conscience of viewers. And they did! Of all the works he made, Hogarth was the most proud of these.
4. What is your view of 20th and 21st century artists like Pablo Picasso, Chaim Soutine, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, and Sue Coe? How did they depict animals?
Kim, that’s a big question, and readers will have to look at my book for an answer. But I will say that excepting Hirst, they all rejected in one way or another the cruel clichés of speciesism. Coe of course is the greatest moralist-artist active today. She proves that you can be both brilliant at your craft (drawing, painting, printmaking) and a powerful force for social change. She has single-handedly made more vegans than all the animal welfare groups put together!
5. Is the focus of your current research animal rights? If so, what can you say us about it?
Yes, I can’t leave it behind. I am writing about animal agency in the late 18th Century and after. In all previous emancipation struggles, the oppressed group has fought for its own freedom. I have discovered that animals – for example the ones brought to Smithfield Market in London — did that too, and that their oppressors recognized it. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I am a careful scholar and I have the evidence! Rampant bulls at Smithfield killed in order to obtain their freedom. Sheep cried out in such a plaintive way that they attracted human supporters. I am giving illustrated lectures about these subjects at conferences this year in England and the US, so please come and hear for yourself.
But Kim, as you know so well, scholarship is not enough. I am becoming more and more engaged with activism. For me, the one supports the other, and I am trying to teach my students at Northwestern the same lesson. The best scholar is the engaged scholar.
PS Here’s a video of Stephen giving a talk to the Chicago Humanities Festival which outlines what he explores more fully in his book. I find it to be important and fascinating research and analysis that’s relevant to understanding our complex relationship with other animals.
Kim Stallwood is an independent scholar and author on animal rights. His book, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate, is published by Lantern Books in 2014. Since 1974, he demonstrated personal commitment and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations in the U.K. and U.S.A. This includes Compassion In World Farming, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Animals' Agenda magazine. He co-founded the Animals and Society Institute in 2005. He is ASI’s European Director. He is also (volunteer) Executive Director of Minding Animals International. His client organisations include CIWF, GREY2K USA Worldwide, and League Against Cruel Sports. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse. He has been a vegan since 1976. He holds dual citizenship in the U.K. and U.S.
Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate
Growl is the book I wish I could have read when I discovered animal cruelty and exploitation. I weave together two parallel narrative arcs. A memoir recalling how animals became important to me and my experiences with the animal rights movement in the U.K. and U.S.; and an exploration on what I now understand as the four key values in animal rights: compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice. Growl is published by Lantern Books and available from book stores and online.