Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), Animal Rights and Concentric Circles

Hi – my name is Charlotte O’Neill, and I’m a third year student in English Literature. Over a few weeks in the summer of last year, I participated in the SURE Scheme, a University funding initiative that enables students to take on a short research project, with the help of their academic supervisors.

My supervisors were Dr John Miller and Dr Robert McKay, who are both interested in Animal Studies, a branch of critical theory concerning the status of the animal in contemporary and historical thought. They wanted to find out more about Edward Carpenter, an intriguing Victorian and early Modern social activist and writer.

As well as being based around Sheffield for most of his life, Carpenter wrote – amongst a litany of other things – literature advocating animal rights. My role was to go to Sheffield Archives, which contains the largest collection of Carpenter’s work, and create a bibliography that could serve as a useful guide to his animal writings.

My research was a fascinating opportunity to find out more about local history, as well as broadening my archival research skills. This Easter I presented my work at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research in Manchester; I’ve created a video that replicates my presentation, and goes into more detail on my findings and the future of my interest in Carpenter.

Thank you for reading and hopefully watching: if you want to discuss my research or Edward Carpenter, please contact me c/o: english@sheffield.ac.uk

Charlotte O’Neill


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