Gorgeous Beasts

Animal Bodies in Historical Perspective

Edited by Joan B. Landes, Paula Young Lee, Paul Youngquist

Paperback - £23.95

Publication date:

15 November 2014

Length of book:

258 pages

Publisher

Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271054025

Gorgeous Beasts takes a fresh look at the place of animals in history and art. Refusing the traditional subordination of animals to humans, the essays gathered here examine a rich variety of ways animals contribute to culture: as living things, as scientific specimens, as food, weapons, tropes, and occasions for thought and creativity. History and culture set the terms for this inquiry. As history changes, so do the ways animals participate in culture. Gorgeous Beasts offers a series of discontinuous but probing studies of the forms their participation takes.

This collection presents the work of a wide range of scholars, critics, and thinkers from diverse disciplines: philosophy, literature, history, geography, economics, art history, cultural studies, and the visual arts. By approaching animals from such different perspectives, these essays broaden the scope of animal studies to include specialists and nonspecialists alike, inviting readers from all backgrounds to consider the place of animals in history and art. Combining provocative critical insights with arresting visual imagery, Gorgeous Beasts advances a challenging new appreciation of animals as co-inhabitants and co-creators of culture.

Aside from the editors, the contributors are Dean Bavington, Ron Broglio, Mark Dion, Erica Fudge, Cecilia Novero, Harriet Ritvo, Nigel Rothfels, Sajay Samuel, and Pierre Serna.

“This innovative, accessible, and thorough collection addresses an admirable range of historical and geographical contexts to demonstrate that the human relationship with other species is complex and overdetermined, and that human systems of knowledge and representation are crucial for negotiating this uneven terrain. An essential teaching text, Gorgeous Beasts will find a welcome home in the HAS classrooms of many disciplines.”

—Sherryl Vint, author of Bodies of Tomorrow: Technology, Subjectivity, Science Fiction