Reel Nature

America's Romance with Wildlife on Film

Reel Nature

Winner of the History of Science Society's Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize in the History of Science. From the early exploits of Teddy Roosevelt in Africa to blockbuster films such as March of the Penguins, Gregg Mitman's Reel Nature reveals how changing values, scientific developments, and new technologies have come to shape American encounters with wildlife on and off the big screen. Whether crafted to elicit thrills or to educate audiences about the real-life drama of threatened wildlife, nature films then and now have had an enormous impact on how Americans see, think about, consume, and struggle to protect animals across the globe. For more information about the author go to: http://gmitman.com/

Nature Wars

The Incredible Story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds

Nature Wars

This may be hard to believe but it is very likely that more people live in closer proximity to more wild animals, birds and trees in the eastern United States today than anywhere on the planet at any time in history. For nature lovers, this should be wonderful news -- unless, perhaps, you are one of more than 4,000 drivers who will hit a deer today, your child’s soccer field is carpeted with goose droppings, coyotes are killing your pets, the neighbor’s cat has turned your bird feeder into a fast-food outlet, wild turkeys have eaten your newly-planted seed corn, beavers have flooded your driveway, or bears are looting your garbage cans. For 400 years, explorers, traders, and settlers plundered North American wildlife and forests in an escalating rampage that culminated in the late 19th century’s “era of extermination.” By 1900, populations of many wild animals and birds had been reduced to isolated remnants or threatened with extinction, and worry mounted that we were running out of trees. Then, in the 20th century, an incredible turnaround took place. Conservationists outlawed commercial hunting, created wildlife sanctuaries, transplanted isolated species to restored habitats and imposed regulations on hunters and trappers. Over decades, they slowly nursed many wild populations back to health. But after the Second World War something happened that conservationists hadn’t foreseen: sprawl. People moved first into suburbs on urban edges, and then kept moving out across a landscape once occupied by family farms. By 2000, a majority of Americans lived in neither cities nor country but in that vast in-between. Much of sprawl has plenty of trees and its human residents offer up more and better amenities than many wild creatures can find in the wild: plenty of food, water, hiding places, and protection from predators with guns. The result is a mix of people and wildlife that should be an animal-lover’s dream-come-true but often turns into a sprawl-dweller’s nightmare. Nature Wars offers an eye-opening look at how Americans lost touch with the natural landscape, spending 90 percent of their time indoors where nature arrives via television, films and digital screens in which wild creatures often behave like people or cuddly pets. All the while our well-meaning efforts to protect animals allowed wild populations to burgeon out of control, causing damage costing billions, degrading ecosystems, and touching off disputes that polarized communities, setting neighbor against neighbor. Deeply researched, eloquently written, counterintuitive and often humorous Nature Wars will be the definitive book on how we created this unintended mess.

Film and the American Moral Vision of Nature

Theodore Roosevelt to Walt Disney

Film and the American Moral Vision of Nature

With his square, bulldoggish stature, signature rimless glasses, and inimitable smile—part grimace, part snarl—Theodore Roosevelt was an unforgettable figure, imprinted on the American memory through photographs, the chiseled face of Mount Rushmore, and, especially, film. At once a hunter, explorer, naturalist, woodsman, and rancher, Roosevelt was the quintessential frontiersman, a man who believed that only nature could truly test and prove the worth of man. A documentary he made about his 1909 African safari embodied aggressive ideas of masculinity, power, racial superiority, and the connection between nature and manifest destiny. These ideas have since been reinforced by others—Jesse “Buff alo” Jones, Paul Rainey, Martin and Osa Johnson, and Walt Disney. Using Roosevelt as a starting point, filmmaker and scholar Ronald Tobias traces the evolution of American attitudes toward nature, attitudes that remain, to this day, remarkably conflicted, complex, and instilled with dreams of empire.

Nature's Ghosts

Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology

Nature's Ghosts

The rapid growth of the American environmental movement in recent decades obscures the fact that long before the first Earth Day and the passage of the Endangered Species Act, naturalists and concerned citizens recognized—and worried about—the problem of human-caused extinction. As Mark V. Barrow reveals in Nature’s Ghosts, the threat of species loss has haunted Americans since the early days of the republic. From Thomas Jefferson’s day—when the fossil remains of such fantastic lost animals as the mastodon and the woolly mammoth were first reconstructed—through the pioneering conservation efforts of early naturalists like John James Audubon and John Muir, Barrow shows how Americans came to understand that it was not only possible for entire species to die out, but that humans themselves could be responsible for their extinction. With the destruction of the passenger pigeon and the precipitous decline of the bison, professional scientists and wildlife enthusiasts alike began to understand that even very common species were not safe from the juggernaut of modern, industrial society. That realization spawned public education and legislative campaigns that laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement and the preservation of such iconic creatures as the bald eagle, the California condor, and the whooping crane. A sweeping, beautifully illustrated historical narrative that unites the fascinating stories of endangered animals and the dedicated individuals who have studied and struggled to protect them, Nature’s Ghosts offers an unprecedented view of what we’ve lost—and a stark reminder of the hard work of preservation still ahead.

Urban Green

Nature, Recreation, and the Working Class in Industrial Chicago

Urban Green

In early twentieth-century America, affluent city-dwellers made a habit of venturing out of doors and vacationing in resorts and national parks. Yet the rich and the privileged were not the only ones who sought respite in nature. In this pathbreaking book, historian Colin Fisher demonstrates that working-class white immigrants and African Americans in rapidly industrializing Chicago also fled the urban environment during their scarce leisure time. If they had the means, they traveled to wilderness parks just past the city limits as well as to rural resorts in Wisconsin and Michigan. But lacking time and money, they most often sought out nature within the city itself--at urban parks and commercial groves, along the Lake Michigan shore, even in vacant lots. Chicagoans enjoyed a variety of outdoor recreational activities in these green spaces, and they used them to forge ethnic and working-class community. While narrating a crucial era in the history of Chicago's urban development, Fisher makes important interventions in debates about working-class leisure, the history of urban parks, environmental justice, the African American experience, immigration history, and the cultural history of nature.

The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History

The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History

The field of environmental history emerged just decades ago but has established itself as one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history, one that bridges the human and natural world, the humanities and the sciences. With the current trend towards internationalizing history, environmental history is perhaps the quintessential approach to studying subjects outside the nation-state model, with pollution, global warming, and other issues affecting the earth not stopping at national borders. With 25 essays, this Handbook is global in scope and innovative in organization, looking at the field thematically through such categories as climate, disease, oceans, the body, energy, consumerism, and international relations.

Entertaining Elephants

Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus

Entertaining Elephants

Consider the career of an enduring if controversial icon of American entertainment: the genial circus elephant. In Entertaining Elephants Susan Nance examines elephant behavior—drawing on the scientific literature of animal cognition, learning, and communications—to offer a study of elephants as actors (rather than objects) in American circus entertainment between 1800 and 1940. By developing a deeper understanding of animal behavior, Nance asserts, we can more fully explain the common history of all species. Entertaining Elephants is the first account that uses research on animal welfare, health, and cognition to interpret the historical record, examining how both circus people and elephants struggled behind the scenes to meet the profit necessities of the entertainment business. The book does not claim that elephants understood, endorsed, or resisted the world of show business as a human cultural or business practice, but it does speak of elephants rejecting the conditions of their experience. They lived in a kind of parallel reality in the circus, one that was defined by their interactions with people, other elephants, horses, bull hooks, hay, and the weather. Nance’s study informs and complicates contemporary debates over human interactions with animals in entertainment and beyond, questioning the idea of human control over animals and people's claims to speak for them. As sentient beings, these elephants exercised agency, but they had no way of understanding the human cultures that created their captivity, and they obviously had no claim on (human) social and political power. They often lived lives of apparent desperation.

Animals and the Human Imagination

A Companion to Animal Studies

Animals and the Human Imagination

Human beings have long imagined their subjectivity, ethics, and ancestry with and through animals, yet not until the mid-twentieth century did contemporary thought reflect critically on animals' significance in human self-conception. Thinkers such as French philosopher Jacques Derrida, South African novelist J. M. Coetzee, and American theorist Donna Haraway have initiated rigorous inquiries into the question of the animal, now blossoming in a number of directions. It is no longer strange to say that if animals did not exist, we would have to invent them. This interdisciplinary and cross-cultural collection reflects the growth of animal studies as an independent field and the rise of "animality" as a critical lens through which to analyze society and culture, on a par with race and gender. Essays consider the role of animals in the human imagination and the imagination of the human; the worldviews of indigenous peoples; animal-human mythology in early modern China; and political uses of the animal in postcolonial India. They engage with the theoretical underpinnings of the animal protection movement, representations of animals in children's literature, depictions of animals in contemporary art, and the philosophical positioning of the animal from Aristotle to Derrida. The strength of this companion lies in its timeliness and contextual diversity, which makes it essential reading for students and researchers while further developing the parameters of the discipline.

The Environmental Moment

1968-1972

The Environmental Moment

The Environmental Moment is a collection of documents that reveal the significance of the years 1968-1972 to the environmental movement in the United States. With material ranging from short pieces from the Whole Earth Catalog and articles from the Village Voice to lectures, posters, and government documents, the collection describes the period through the perspective of a diversity of participants, including activists, politicians, scientists, and average citizens. Included are the words of Rachel Carson, but also the National Review, Howard Zahniser on wilderness, Nathan Hare on the Black underclass. The chronological arrangement reveals the coincidence of a multitude of issues that rushed into public consciousness during a critical time in American history.

Animals and Society

An Introduction to Human-Animal Studies

Animals and Society

Considering that much of human society is structured through its interaction with non-human animals, and since human society relies heavily on the exploitation of animals to serve human needs, human–animal studies has become a rapidly expanding field of research, featuring a number of distinct positions, perspectives, and theories that require nuanced explanation and contextualization. The first book to provide a full overview of human–animal studies, this volume focuses on the conceptual construction of animals in American culture and the way in which it reinforces and perpetuates hierarchical human relationships rooted in racism, sexism, and class privilege. Margo DeMello considers interactions between humans and animals within the family, the law, the religious and political system, and other major social institutions, and she unpacks the different identities humans fashion for themselves and for others through animals. Essays also cover speciesism and evolutionary continuities; the role and preservation of animals in the wild; the debate over zoos and the use of animals in sports; domestication; agricultural practices such as factory farming; vivisection; animal cruelty; animal activism; the representation of animals in literature and film; and animal ethics. Sidebars highlight contemporary controversies and issues, with recommendations for additional reading, educational films, and related websites. DeMello concludes with an analysis of major philosophical positions on human social policy and the future of human–animal relations.