University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies

University of Surrey


Too Cute to Kill? From the Depiction of Animals in Children’s Literature to the Framing of Government Policy by Adults

21 July 2016 - 22 July 2016


Attitudes, behaviours and choices impact all arenas of environmental, public and veterinary health. In particular, the cultural and emotional value accorded to certain animal species makes disease control and policy development complex. This international and interdisciplinary workshop will explore the depictions of wild and domestic animals in children’s literature and how these shape the value accorded to animals and their environment. We shall seek a better understanding together of how the cultural and emotional values accorded to certain animal species contribute to the complexity of policy development and implementation by government and impact environmental, public and veterinary health.


The workshop aims to:


* Develop an understanding of how the cultural representation of animals and attitudes to animal species can help or hinder policy development and public engagement by government in the areas of disease control, animal welfare, and biodiversity.


* Form of a novel national/international network between complementary disciplines,such as literature, psychology, and veterinary medicine, with an interest in exploring the concept and origin of how animal species are framed and the impact this has on policy development.


* Identify research questions and provide an opportunity to develop research plans.



Mr Alick Simmons: former Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and Director of Plant and Animal Health for England.

Professor Wyn Grant, University of Warwick: specialises in comparative public policy with particular reference to the European Union and the United States.

Professor Francine Dollins, University of Michigan-Dearborn: specialises in companion animal welfare, behaviour–companion animal, human-animal interaction.

Dr Amy Ratelle, University of Toronto: specialist in critical media studies, children’s literature and culture, animality studies, animation studies, posthumanist theory and visual culture.

Holly Webb: best-selling author of over sixty children’s books, particularly animal stories for young readers, former children’s book editor at Scholastic.

Caroline Spence, Queen Mary, University of London: researcher in human attitudes to animal sentience and welfare.




  • Mark Chambers, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey
  • Birgitta Gatersleben, School of Psychology, University of Surrey
  • Sophie Heywood, Department of Modern Languages and European Studies, University of Reading
  • Adeline Johns-Putra, School of English and Languages, University of Surrey



For further queries, please contact Professor Mark Chambers