Animals on Display

The Creaturely in Museums, Zoos, and Natural History

Edited by Liv Emma Thorsen, Karen A. Rader, Adam Dodd

Paperback - £27.95

Publication date:

15 November 2014

Length of book:

232 pages

Publisher

Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271060712

John Berger famously said that “in the last two centuries, animals have gradually disappeared.” Those who share his view contend that animals have been removed from our daily lives and that we have been removed from the daily lives of animals. This has been the impetus for a plethora of representational practices that, broadly conceived, work to fill in the gap between humans and animals. Ironically, many of these may ultimately intensify the very nostalgia, distance, and ignorance they were devised to remedy. Animals on Display presents nine lively and engaging essays on the historical representation and display of nonhuman animals. Looking at a wide range of examples, many of them now little known, the essays situate them in their historical and sociocultural contexts, while speaking to the ongoing importance of making animals visible for the arrangement and sustenance of human-animal relations.

Aside from the editors, the contributors are Brita Brenna, Guro Flinterud, Henry A. McGhie, Brian W. Ogilvie, Nigel Rothfels, and Lise Camilla Ruud.

From the eighteenth century’s preserved monsters to the twenty-first century’s images of zoo polar bear Knut, the authors of Animals on Display foreground representations—not as transparent or objective acts but as visible and palpable forces working at micro and macro levels to shape cultural understandings and relationships to animals. After this book, the reader cannot look at commonplace images and figures of animals without thinking of how they are enframed and to what ends.

—Ron Broglio, Arizona State University