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Dr Andrew J P FlackBA (Bristol), MA (Bristol), Ph.D


Andy Flack

Dr Andrew J P FlackBA (Bristol), MA (Bristol), Ph.D


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Research interests

Present research interests:

Now that I have completed the publications from my doctoral project, I am moving into a new intellectual arena. 'Dark Frontiers' investigates nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientific engagement with animals that dwell in darkness. Focusing on caves, deep sea, the poles and urban night-time environments more broadly, the project is structred around a number of key research questions:

1. how have new technologiees allowed naturalists to colonise the night in search of the secrets of animal bodies and behaviours?

2. what have been the consequences of this colonisation of the dark on animals and environments?

3. how have understandings of the ways in which animals sense the world in darkness changed over time?

4. are there connections between these dicsourses and understandings of life among sight impaired people? 

Past research:

My doctoral research focused on the animal and environmental histories of Bristol Zoo Gardens from 1835. This work represents the first extensive academic history of a provincial zoo, examining the vast array of human relationships with animals and their wild worlds in modernity. My work engaged with themes at the very forefront of animal, environmental, and imperial histories. In particular, I examined the human commodification of nature, its transformation into objects of science and spectacle, the creation of ‘almost-people’, animals in death (and dying), and human understandings of the world in an era of ecological impoverishment. Most significantly, I worked on the ways in which captve creatures might be said to have 'agency' in a context often perceived to be wholly oppressive. This work followed on from my earlier study of the phenomenon of celebrity beasts in Victorian culture, and human-nature conflict on the Australian frontier in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Also emerging form these interests have been a conference on the theme of Animals and Empire in 2013; the curation of an exhibition by the same name for the Animal History Museum in Los Angeles in 2014; and work as part of the REACT Object Sandbox cohort.

I am presently engaged in a city-wide immersive Brigstow Institute project with Trigger and the School of Geographical Science's Dr Merle Patchett. 


Media engagements include an appearance on BBC 4’s Timeshift and consultation for an episode of Great British Railway Journeys. I have also appeared on Points West and have recently consulted on the BBC's 'What are zoos for?' iWonder project.


I have a wealth of teaching experience. During the 2017-18 session I shall be teaching

  • Wild Things: humans and other animals in the modern world (Yr 1)
  • Travels in Space and Time (Yr. 2)
  • Genocide in the Twentieth Century and Beyond (Yr3)
  • Filming the Past (Yr 3)
  • The Holocaust on Trial: History, Law, and Memory (Yr. 3)

In the past I have taught:

  • Approaching the Past (Yr 1)
  • Introduction to the British Empire (yr 1)
  • Rethinking History (Yr. 2)
  • Britain's Cold War (Yr 1)
  • The American West: An Environmental History (Yr 2)
  • Bringing History (and Historians) Down to Earth (Yr 3)

I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and supervised individual studies

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • IASworkshop
  • Centre for Environmental Humanities
  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science
  • Cabot Institute City Futures Research
  • Cabot Institute Environmental Change Research

View research connections

Postal address:
13-15 Woodland Road
United Kingdom