David Gould is currently studying a PhD at the University of Leeds in the School of Media and Communication. His project examines the history of the slaughterhouse in the UK and America, as well as the history of the representation of animal death in visual media.

The emergence of the slaughterhouse was a product of many concurrent social, economic, and moral tensions. Mass animal slaughter in urban areas created public health problems, barriers to the expansion of the meat industry, and outrage at the ill treatment of animals. The solution to these problems, the slaughterhouse, configured death as a mere moment that was both temporally and geographically isolated. The process of dying was frozen in place and pushed out of sight. The history of the representation of animal death in cinema shares this same trajectory, i.e. a move from visibility to invisibility, and a passage from process to moment.

The project asks a number of questions, including:

  • In what way did the slaughterhouse influence the development of the economy in the US and Europe, particularly the rise of Fordism?
  • What was the influence of cinema on the slaughterhouse considering that “high-quality” gelatine is absolutely essential in the production of film?
  • How did the removal of animal slaughter from public life change people’s ideas of what an animal is, and what it means for an animal to die?
  • In a world that necessitates the killing of billions of animals every year, why can’t audiences bare to watch animal death?
  • In what way does visual media reflect the structures of society, with regard to the absence of animal death in day-to-day life and the absence of animal death in visual media?

Prior to studying for the PhD, Gould received his BA (Hons) from the University of Brighton in 2016 studying Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics. He completed his MA in Cultural and Critical Theory at the University of Leeds in 2017.

He is also an associate editor for parallax and a peer for the Journal of Critical Animal Studies.