Skip to Main Content

The History of Human-Animal Relations (August 2017): Publishers' Series

By J. Wendel Cox

Publishers' Series

Several publishers, including the University of Chicago Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, Pennsylvania State University Press, and Michigan State University Press have established monograph series offering works concerned, in whole or part, with the history of human-animal relations. Each series is slightly different in its mission, and titles often crisscross disciplinary bounds. Collectively, they also consider a chronological and geographic scope much greater than the present essay, and their respective title lists suggest the growth, dynamism, and reach of this topic. New from the University of Chicago Press’s “Animal Lives” series is Hilda Kean’s The Great Dog and Cat Massacre: The Real Story of World War Two’s Unknown Tragedy, concerning the destruction of hundreds of thousands of British pets during wartime as an act of popular mercy in anticipation of aerial bombardment and invasion. Louise E. Robbins’s seminal Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris inaugurated Johns Hopkins University Press’s “Animals, History, Culture” series in 2002. Pennsylvania State University Press offers the dynamic series “Animalibus: Of Animals and Culture,” edited by Nigel Rothfels (author of the valuable Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo), which includes Rachel Poliquin’s provocative and beautifully illustrated volume, The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and Cultures of Longing. The “Animal Turn” series from Michigan State University Press ranges widely in time, place, and discipline, and includes valuable contributions like editors Louisa Mackenzie and Stephanie Posthumus’s French Thinking about Animals, which gathers in translation a critical thread of contemporary Continental and Francophone thought on human-animal relationships from philosophical, literary, and historical perspectives.

Finally, one especially successful series, Reaktion’s “Animal” series, has grown to dozens of volumes and attracted an array of authors to various species. Each “Animal” volume is titled eponymously for its subject. Each affords accessible and grounded accounts of an individual species, and one can now read from Graham Barwell’s Albatross to Garry Marvin’s Wolf. Highlights include Susan McHugh’s Dog and Rebecca Stott’s Oyster, and several titles–Bison, Leopard, Monkey, and Owl–by the renowned zoologist Desmond Morris, best known for his popular 1967 account of the human animal, The Naked Ape.

Works Cited