“It’s the relation between humans and dogs that matters to me, and what that tells us over time about what we have become as a society.” — Colin Dayan
This week, our featured book is With Dogs at the Edge of Life, by Colin Dayan. In the first of two posts today, we are happy to present an interview with Colin Dayan recorded by Vanderbilt University, along with an excerpt from the article posted with the video.
Professor offers unsettling look at humanity with study of people and their dogs
By Ann Marie Deer Owens
A Vanderbilt University professor has researched true stories of people and their dogs—some tender and some disturbing—to make a compelling case for re-thinking our treatment of both of them.
Colin Dayan, the Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities and professor of American studies in the College of Arts and Science, is the author of With Dogs at the Edge of Life (Columbia University Press, 2016).
Dayan, who is also a professor of law, emphasized that it’s the relationship between dogs and humans that is important to her research. The actions surrounding that relationship provide tremendous insight into what we have become as a society.
“The book is making a plea for us to think differently about our relationships because this is a time, as I see it, of extinctions,” Dayan said. “Certain groups of people and certain kinds of dogs are labeled and easily disposed of.”
Dayan said that this has been her most meaningful book, with a strong emphasis on her prose “to get the pulse and rhythm of what it is to think through the life and breath of dogs. It’s been a powerful experience for me.”
She hopes that readers will take away the need to emulate dogs in terms of inhabiting a world without judgement. “Dogs came to matter to me for not only themselves, but also for what they could teach me in a very, very wise sense about empathy and engagement across class and racial lines.”
Read the full article here.