Centring animal experience through comics-based research: The case of Pavlov’s dogs

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The focus of this article is the collaborative creation of Pavlov and the Kingdom of Dogs, a graphic nonfiction novel aimed at highlighting the lives of dogs experimented upon by Ivan Pavlov in late 19th and early 20th-century Russia. The novel delves into the intricate human-canine relationships within the context of St. Petersburg’s scientific, cultural, and political landscape. The collaboration between a researcher, a professional illustrator, and a script editor aimed to challenge anthropocentric narratives prevalent in historical representations of Pavlov and experimental science. Rooted in animal studies and psychology, this project explores the potential of arts-based methods to centre animals and their relationships within historical contexts. It aims to deepen depictions of animal experiences and agency while bridging the gap between human-animal studies and psychology, where attention to animal lives in research settings remains limited. By focusing on Pavlov’s experiments, the project seeks to redefine experimental animals as active historical subjects, contributing to broader discussions on human-animal relationships and ethical responsibilities. The article delineates the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the graphic novel, provides insights into the comics-based research process, and discusses the affordances and challenges of this approach. It concludes by reflecting on the potential of comics-based research to engage both academic and public audiences, ultimately advocating for a deeper understanding of human-animal entanglements and their implications in contemporary society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)106-135
Number of pages30
JournalTrace: Journal of Human-Animal Studies
Issue number-
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2024


  • arts-based research
  • psychology
  • animals
  • comics-based research
  • graphic novels
  • human-animal relations


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