Researcher Explores Human-Animal Bond in New Book

August 26, 2010 - News Release

Do you look after your pet or does your pet look after you? How we use animals as human caregivers - and how our view of creatures is influenced by culture and art - is the topic of a new book published this month by a University of Guelph researcher.

In a novel twist on the topic of the human-animal bond, Every Living Being: Representations of Nonhuman Animals in the Exploration of Human Well-Being focuses on creatures used in films and TV, books, photography, fine art and other media.

Written by Marie-France Boissonneault, a post-doctoral researcher in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), the 324-page volume is published by Inkwater Press.

“It’s about how we develop bonds with nonhuman animals through art, media, literature and ultimately our shared history,” says Boissonneault.

Written in a more academic style, Every Living Being delves into what she calls “anthrozoology” to consider animals depicted in culture and art and to explore their effects on human health and well-being. She covers visual imagery of animals in print and on-screen, animals in human development, animals as healers and as products, and similarities between people and other living beings – primarily mammals.

The book draws on her PhD studies in Australia in communications and media arts, focusing on human-animal relationships. Originally from Montreal, Boissonneault returned to Canada two years ago to study veterinary literature and the human-animal bond with OVC dean Elizabeth Stone.

In previous years, Boissonneault studied marine science, psychology, film, multimedia, photography and creative arts. In 2009, she published her first book, Nurse or Nememis?, about the endangered Australian grey nurse shark.

Marie-France Boissonneault
Ontario Veterinary College

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