November 2010

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(NOTE: This is an archived press release.)


Leading academics from Writtle College and partner institution the University of Essex, set ‘The horse and other animals in the sciences, arts and everyday life’ as the title for the third conference in an interdisciplinary series.

The principal focus of the conference, as reflected in the title, was the horse. Speakers presented papers looking at the perception of the horse through time, the connection of horses to mythic resonances in art and literature, as well as a look at the horse in cinematography. Other papers explored the theoretical demand for high welfare milk in the UK, the connection between a Japanese Garden to the Irish National Stud, and zoological design - the use of plants and how they enhance animal exhibits within the zoo environment.

Tim Whitaker, Research Coordinator at Writtle College, presented his paper on the “dilemma of future breeding strategy that faces many traditional horse breeding schemes. As the equine has changed from a power to leisure animal; today they are faced with difficult and antagonistic decisions over breed direction.” Tim further asked and answered the question “do horses satisfy the needs of the breed, preserving its place in a historic landscape? Or do they abandon tradition and chase what a changing consumer market desires?”

Continuing with the horse theme Clodagh Tait from the University of Essex chose to explore Gaelic Ireland in the sixteenth-century and the impact of horses during this era. Just one discussion point by Clodagh looked at how “horses and cattle were central to the economy and culture of sixteenth-century Gaelic Ireland. Wealth was measured largely in livestock, and in a society where the supply of the coin was limited, the exchange of animals was central to the purchase of goods. Horses and cattle were also exchanged as part of dowry agreements on marriage.”

Dr Jeremy Strong, Head of Higher Education and one of the conference organisers said: “This was the third annual conference on an interdisciplinary theme between partners Writtle College and the University of Essex. We specifically chose the title 'the horse and other animals...' to offer an event that would be relevant for the Writtle students who attended as part of our 'Study Week' portfolio. As in previous years, we have been pleased by the range of leading academics from a number of disciplines across both institutions who submitted papers.”

The conference not only appealed to academics and students from Equine and Animal Science disciplines, but also from diverse fields such as Art History, Literary & Screen studies, Psychoanalysis, Agriculture, Economics, Sports Science, Planning, Psychology, Sociology, Law, among many others.

The conference was held at Writtle College on 17 November.

Pictured: Colin Snell, East 15, presenting his paper on 'Cinematic horses, simulated passions.'