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Peter Sahlins
University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA 94704-5940)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Prizes]

$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2011 – 12/31/2011

Animal Wrongs: Animals and the Law in France Since the Later Middle Ages

I seek support for a book that explores, in the shadow of the English history of "animal rights," the reverse story of animal crimes and their prosecution in France since the later Middle Ages. The touchstone of the book is a series of well-publicized animal trials by secular and ecclesiastical courts beginning in the fifteenth century and abruptly ending in the seventeenth century. I will focus on the trials, but also consider the metaphoric uses of animals on trial and in courts in literature, theology, and science since the seventeenth century. In doing so, I tell a story about the shifting status of animals between "persons" and "property" in France, considered in a broader comparative context, as a way to explore the modern idea of juridical personhood. The book will be of interest to many kinds of historians, legal scholars, and students of the humanities both in and beyond France and the growing interdisciplinary field of "Animal Studies."