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The History of Human-Animal Relations (August 2017): Reference Works, Collections, and Readers

By J. Wendel Cox

Reference Works, Collections, and Readers

With the growth and development of the study of human-animal relations, it is not surprising that reference works have appeared that offer users—novices and experts alike—clarity and understanding of the subject’s development, key insights, and enduring questions. The Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies, edited by accomplished scholars of human-animal relations Garry Marvin and Susan McHugh, is an exceptional reference work; readers will value it for its introduction to a host of topics, as well as for its state-of-the-field assessment in most every one of its entries. Other reference works reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the study of human-animal relations but may still serve those interested in the historical nature of human-animal relations. For example, in addition to being an excellent introduction to philosophical thought about human-animal relations, The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics, edited by Tom Beauchamp and R. G. Frey, provides historical accounts of conceptions of animals and changing views of their standing and place in relationship to humanity. The Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior, edited by Michael Breed and Janice Moore, affords a summary of the latest scholarship as well as historical perspectives on inquiry in ethology, including substantial essays on ethology’s history, origins, and evolution. The consumption of animals as food makes for significant connections with a growing scholarship on the history of food; see, for example, chapters on meat and fish, as well as the intersections of race, ethnicity, and class, in The Routledge History of American Foodways, edited by Michael Wise and Jennifer Jensen.

Similarly, essay collections and readers afford ready access to a wide range of writing and thought on the history of human-animal relations, as well as the breadth of inquiry from other disciplines. Historical treatments include A Cultural History of Animals, edited by Linda Kalof and Brigitte Resl, and The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Readings, edited by Linda Kalof and Amy Fitzgerald. The latter includes accessible contributions by many authors identified elsewhere in this essay. Works assembled in editor Dorothee Brantz’s Beastly Natures: Animals, Humans, and the Study of History collectively foreground the historiographical and methodological challenges and opportunities of studying the history of human-animal relations. For a broad perspective on scholarship from disciplines other than history, see Between the Species: Readings in Human-Animal Relations edited by Arnold Arluke and Clinton Sanders, which provides classic works from literary theory to social work.

Finally, as scholarship on the history of human-animal relations shows no sign of waning, those interested in the latest research will want to employ such disciplinary bibliographies as America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts to remain current with new ideas, publications, and trends in scholarship. Literary scholarship with historical dimensions is accessible via the Modern Languages Association (MLA) Bibliography. Ecology Abstracts provides a fascinating window into a scientific literature at the juncture of various disciplines, including the social sciences, and, occasionally, the humanities. Anyone willing to brave a less than inviting interface will find IBZ Online (Internationale Bibliographie der geistes- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Zeitschriftenliteratur, or International Bibliography of Periodical Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences) valuable for its scope, non-English language sources, and interdisciplinary sweep.