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Institute Directors

Current Directors

Jane Desmond is Professor of Anthropology and of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois where she also holds affiliate faculty appointments in the Unit for Critical Theory and Interpretation and the College of Veterinary Medicine. She has published widely in the fields of performance studies, transnational American Studies, and on human-animal relations, and recently inaugurated the Animal Lives Book Series at the University of Chicago Press. Desmond is the author of two solo-authored books (Staging Tourism: Bodies on Display from Waikiki to Sea World, University of Chicago Press, 1999) and (Displaying Death and Animating Life: Human-Animal Relations in Art, Science and Everyday Life, University of Chicago Press, 2016), two edited books on performance, a third co-edited book on globalization, and several special issues of journals in multiple countries, in addition to numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her work has appeared in Hungary, South Korea (in translation and in English), in China (in translation), and in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and Brazil, as well as the United States. In addition, she is the co-founder and Executive Director of the International Forum for US Studies: A Center for the Transnational Study of the United States, and is past President of the International American Studies Association (2008-2012). In 2019 she was appointed CAS Resident Director in charge of the Animal Studies Initiative at Illinois.

Kim Marra is a Collegiate Fellow and Professor in Theatre & Performance History with a quarter-time appointment in the American Studies Department and affiliate faculty in Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. Her book Strange Duets: Impresarios and Actresses in the American Theatre, 1865-1914 (2006) won the 2008 Joe A. Callaway Prize for Best Book on Drama or Theatre (NYU Department of English.) She is the co-editor of numerous books and has served on editorial boards of The University of Iowa Press, the Theatre in the Americas Series (Southern Illinois University Press), Theatre Survey and Theatre History Studies, as well as on the Publications Committee of the America Theatre and Drama Society (ATDS). She is a former Secretary of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) and a former member of both the Executive Committee of ASTR and the Executive Board of the ATDS. She is an elected member and current Board member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre.

Gala Argent is the Director of Human-Animal Studies at the Animals and Society Institute. She holds a doctorate in Archaeology and teaches or has taught in higher education within departments of Art, Communication Studies, Cultural Anthropology, and Animal Studies.

Kenneth Shapiro is a cofounder and President of the Board of Animals and Society Institute. He is founding editor of Society and Animals: Journal of Human-Animal Studies, and coeditor and cofounder of Journal for Applied Animal Welfare Science and the editor of the Human-Animal Studies book series. His most recent book is The Assessment and Treatment of Children who Abuse Animals: The AniCare Approach.

Past Director

Margo DeMello is Program Director of the Human-Animal Studies Program at the Animals and Society Institute, and is an Adjunct Professor at Canisius College’s Anthrozoology program. She also is the President of House Rabbit Society, an international rabbit advocacy organization. She has published a dozen books, and two dozen articles, in the fields of human-animal studies and body studies, including two textbooks. Her most recent books include Animals and Society: An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies (Columbia, 2012), Speaking for Animals: Animal Autobiographical Writing (Routledge, 2012), and Mourning Animals: Rituals and Practices Surrounding Animal Death (Michigan State, 2016).