The sirens and centaurs of the Physiologus tradition make up an odd but notorious couple: they appear as monstrous, exaggerated incarnations of heteronormative notions of femininity and masculinity. This interdisciplinary conference will combine the theories and methods of gender studies and animal studies in order to examine how imaginary representations of nonhuman animals such as these were used to construct gender and sexuality in premodern times, and also how those constructions were subverted. To what extent did the bodies of animals – as imagined in premodern science, literature and art – serve as cultural signifiers of sex, gender and desire? In what ways did premodern mythology, theology and zoology contribute to the formation of gender stereotypes that corresponded (and often still correspond) to ideas of the “natural” or “unnatural”? How do perceived continuities or discontinuities between human and other animals support such notions as bestiality and miscegenation, and the taboos and fantasies surrounding them? In what ways are pleasure or disgust, attraction or loathing, desire or fear, conjured or manipulated in particular texts or images from this period? To what extent do the answers to these questions change over time?