Arts-based methods and animal history: the case of Pavlov’s dogs

Activity: External talk or presentationOral presentation


In this talk I share reflections on work undertaken for an AHRC Fellowship, titled Pavlov and the kingdom of dogs: Storying experimental animal histories through arts-based research. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) is well known for the concept of 'classical conditioning' and his experiments with dogs. However, the detail of the lives and experiences of the hundreds of dogs that lived and died in Pavlov’s St Petersburg (later Petrograd/Leningrad) lab complex over a fifty-plus year career are rarely discussed. The project places the experiences of experimental animals firmly in the spotlight, revealing a range of practices and relations that challenge accepted understandings of experimental animal welfare, their contribution to ‘classic’ studies, and the nature of scientific and psychological practice. As well as scholarship and academic outputs, the project involves the collaborative cross-disciplinary production of two artefacts: a graphic novel and a multi-piece diorama-based exhibition (a diorama being a three-dimensional miniature scale model). The graphic novel (or comic book / long-form work of sequential art) focuses on the experiences of dogs as they are entangled with the life of Pavlov, the city and wider upheavals in science, politics and society. The diorama-based exhibition playfully recreates and reimagines scenes, places and practices in Pavlov’s lab complex at different moments in time. This presentation will reflect on the rewards and challenges of attempting to work across disciplines in this context; and specifically on arts-based methods as a way of exploring and communicating animal history.
Period11 Sept 2023
Event titleAnimal History Group Annual Conference: Working Across Disciplines on Animal History
Event typeConference
LocationLincoln, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • psychology
  • history
  • animal history
  • arts-based research
  • animal studies