Writing in animals in history

Authored by: Philip Howell , Hilda Kean

The Routledge Companion to Animal–Human History

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138193260
eBook ISBN: 9780429468933
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429468933-1

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Abstract

This Routledge Companion adds to the emerging literature on animal–human history, and aims to be a guide and resource for current and prospective historians. One of its distinctive aims is that of approaching both visual and written histories of animals and animal–human relations, to re-present and underscore the role of nonhuman animals as historical actors. Our argument is illustrated on the cover of this book. The image of the traces of an elephant’s passing is taken from the work of the leading animal artist Nick Brandt. The relationship between humans and animals is a central part of Brandt’s photographic work, rightly identified by Peter Singer as an essay in environmental ethics. 1 Brandt has written that for between ten and twenty years he has driven through countless areas where there had once been abundant animal life, life which ‘now has been relentlessly wiped up’. 2 His response has been not only to create new photographic presences but also to contribute to our understanding of their place in our world. As he comments, ‘I took the pictures of the animals in these books in an attempt to capture them as sentient creatures not so different from us. I have sought to photograph them not in action, but simply in a state of being’. 3

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