Proposal One: Animals & Society


Brief Description

Human-animal studies (HAS) is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that is primarily devoted to examining, understanding, and critically evaluating the myriad of complex and multi-dimensional relationships between humans and animals, be these relationships real or virtual, historical or contemporary, factual or fictional, beneficial or detrimental. As our understanding of ecology and the fundamental interconnectedness of all living beings continues to grow, the importance (both for humans and for animals) of studying human-animal interactions becomes evermore obvious.

Human-animal studies is one of the most rapidly growing fields of intellectual inquiry today. The number of completed doctoral dissertations in human-animal studies in the 1990’s doubled compared to the number completed in the 1980’s, a rate of growth faster than that of dissertations in any other area. Numerous peer-reviewed journals devoted to human-animal studies have emerged in the last two decades, and countless general academic journals have begun publishing work in human-animal studies. There are also numerous book series devoted to HAS, conferences around the world that cover it. There are currently hundreds of human-animal studies courses (some at the undergraduate level, others at the graduate level) being taught at universities around the world, and dozens of doctoral dissertations are completed in HAS every year.

Students from a wide variety of backgrounds are drawn to human-animal studies courses throughout the humanities and social sciences, and HAS courses also appeal to students in the fields of biology, ethology and animal behavior. Providing courses that will naturally appeal to students in different majors provides a stimulating, mutually beneficial learning environment that enhances these students’ coursework, as well as their awareness of how our relationships with animals impact society, both positively and negatively.

Like women’s studies, ethnic studies, multicultural studies and other interdisciplinary fields, human-animal studies lends itself to both the creation of stand-alone courses, as well as the integration of those subjects into traditional courses.

Yet HAS does not, as yet, have its own textbook.   That means that professors who teach HAS courses rely upon the many books published dealing with Human-Animal Studies, and many others create their own readers with articles from books and journals.  This makes it difficult for some colleges to sponsor courses in HAS.  Animals & Society fills this critical gap.

Outstanding Features

Animals & Society will be the first comprehensive textbook available for college and university use. It will look at animals from a historical and cross-cultural perspective, and will consider the politics of categorization, how animals have served as a mirror for human identities, how animal-human relationships provide a window from which to study human societies, and how ideas about animals and human-animal relationships have changed over time.

Features will include opening-chapter case studies, “boxes” featuring the work of scholars working in HAS, as well as boxes which cover contemporary controversies and legislative issues, and end-of-chapter summaries and follow up questions. Chapters will include lists of recommended readings, films, and websites. End-of-book material will include a bibliography and subject index.


Primary Markets

Animals & Society can be used in HAS courses in any English-speaking community college or four-year university.  These courses are typically undergraduate courses, but include graduate classes as well.  Animals & Society would be the basic textbook for these courses.  The most appropriate disciplines for this textbook would be sociology, anthropology, history, cultural studies, and geography, but the book could also be used in philosophy, women’s studies, and environmental studies. Animals studies courses tend to attract a wide variety of students from a variety of disciplines, both majors and non-majors.

Animals & Society would be, as well, a comprehensive reference tool for use by scholars and students, as well as those who are just interested in animals from an academic perspective, such as those who work in the animal protection field.

Secondary Markets

Animals & Society would also be a popular trade book, given the growing number of books on animals from every angle available today.


There are no textbooks available in Human-Animal Studies.  However, there are a number of volumes that approach the field from a cross cultural or historical perspective, that are used in courses around the country.

Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders, eds. 2009. Between the Species: A Reader in Human-Animal Relationships. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Flynn, Clifton. 2008. Social creatures: A human and animal studies reader. New York: Lantern Books.

Kalof, Linda, and Fitzgerald, Amy, eds. 2007. The Animals Reader: The Essential Classic and Contemporary Writings. Oxford and New York: Berg.

The above three books are readers which are now heavily used in HAS courses around the country. They include articles written by scholars from a variety of disciplines and cover the representation of animals, the history of animals in human societies, the social construction of animals, the use of animals, and animals as moral subjects. That they have been published in the last two years is a testament to the rapidly growing quality of this field.  Animals & Society would be a perfect companion to any of these readers.

Arluke, Arnold and Clinton Sanders (1996). Regarding Animals, Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 218 pp.  This book, written by two sociologists who are leaders in the field, gives the reader a peak into the ways that people who work with animals (such as lab workers, animal shelter workers, or dog trainers) cope with their work and the complex relationships that form. It is an excellent addition to the literature, and is most useful for sociology classes, but does not provide the cross cultural or historical approach necessary for it to stand alone as a textbook for Human-Animal Studies.

Franklin, Adrian (1999). Animals and Modern Cultures: A Sociology of Human-Animal Relations in Modernity, London: Sage Publications. 213 pp.  Franklin’s book is the closest to a textbook that is available today. Written by a sociologist, it covers the most important aspects of the human-animal relationship (food, ritual, pets, zoos, sports, agriculture) in a comprehensive way. However, the book takes as its focus the twentieth century, making it less useful as a text for a course that covers the history of human-animal relations.

Henninger-Voss, Mary, ed. (2002). Animals in Human Histories: The Mirror of Nature and Culture, Rochester: University of Rochester Press. 484 pp.  This book grapples with a wide variety of subjects, from fisheries in Medieval Europe to cattle grazing in US history, looking at them both historically as well as by the place in which the human-animal interaction occurs. As a stand-alone book, it provides a series of snapshots of human-animal interaction but not an overall understanding of the field.

Manning, Aubrey, James Serpell, eds. (1994). Animals and Human Society: Changing Perspectives, London: Routledge. 199 pp.  This is a wide-ranging look at the role animals play in human societies, with chapters ranging from nineteenth century attitudes towards animals to images of animals in medieval times. It provides a nice cross section of some of the work that is being done in the field but is nowhere near comprehensive.

Podberscek, Anthony, Paul, Elizabeth and Serpell, James, eds. (2000). Companion Animals and Us: Exploring the Relationships between People and Pets, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  This is an excellent book on the people-pet relationship, written by three of the leading scholars in the field. Its narrow focus on pets, however, limits the book and makes it an unlikely candidate to serve as a textbook for most courses.

Rothfels, Nigel, ed. (2002). Representing Animals, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.  235 pp. This volume looks primarily at the representations of animals from a number of perspectives such as cloning, hunting, and animatronics. It is an excellent contribution to a cultural studies perspective on animals, but is not broad enough, or introductory enough, for use as a Human-Animal studies textbook.

Serpell, James (1996). In the Company of Animals, 2nd (Revised) Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 283 pp.  This book, originally published in 1986, was one of the first in the HAS field, and is written by a cultural anthropologist.  While a classic in the field, it is narrow in scope in its focus on pet keeping, and somewhat outdated in its use of arguments for and against pet keeping.

Willis, Roy, ed. (1990). Signifying Animals: Human Meaning in the Natural World, London: Routledge. 258 pp.  This book primarily covers representations of animals, and is cross-cultural in approach. It is an excellent tool for those most interested in the symbolic uses of animals but is too narrow in scope to act as a text for HAS in general.

Wolch, Jennifer and Emel, Jody, eds. (1998). Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands, London: Verso. 309 pp.  This is a wonderful book that approaches human-animal relationships from a cultural geography perspective, and looks at those geographies where animal and human meet (and conflict). Like so many of the other books listed, however, it covers a number of interesting subjects (wolf eradication, golden eagles, spotted owls, pig breeding) but is not comprehensive enough to serve as a stand-alone textbook for a HAS course.

All of the above books are considered “required reading” for students or scholars with an interest in Human Animal Studies. However, none of them can even approach the scope that a textbook needs to have in order for it to be a stand-alone resource for the field. This is why Animals & Society is so necessary today. By providing a cross cultural and historical perspective, by combining the theoretical approaches from a number of disciplines, and by covering human-animal interactions in all arenas where they occur, Animals & Society will be the definitive book for the field.


I plan to complete the book in the next 12 months. I can have the first sample chapter ready for review by the end of Summer 2009.   I estimate that the book will be about 500 pages, not including end material, and will include approximately 30 photos, and approximately 20 charts and diagrams.


I am uniquely qualified to write this textbook not only because I teach a course in Animals & Society. I have just finished editing a volume, to be published in Fall 2009, called Teaching the Animal: Human-Animal Studies across the Disciplines. This book was written to serve the growing interest in HAS by providing scholars new to the field with the information that they need to teach a class in HAS, or to include HAS materials in their existing classes. I also am the Program Director for Human-Animal Studies at the Animals & Society Institute, a think tank devoted to studying and furthering the understanding of human-animal relationships. I maintain a web listing of the courses being taught in HAS around the country (and internationally) and add new courses every week.  I am uniquely positioned to understand and see the growth of this exciting field.



Part I: Constructing Animals: Animal Categories


Chapter 1: Human-Animal Studies

  1. The Need for HAS
  2. History of the Field
  3. Theoretical Underpinnings
    1. Symbolic Interactionism
    2. Social Constructionism
    3. Symbolism
    4. Feminism and Ecofeminism
    5. Psychological Approaches
    6. Evolutionary Psychology
    7. Post Modernism
    8. Cultural Studies
    9. Post Colonialism

Chapter 2: Animal-Human Borders

  1. Animals and Humans: The Great Divide?
  2. Speciesism
  3. Evolutionary Continuities
  4. Biological and Physiological Connections
  5. Pre-Modern Connections

Chapter 3: The Social Construction of Animals

  1. Classification Schemes
    1. Hierarchical
    2. Biological
    3. Sociozoologic
  2. Dichotomies
    1. Wild/Tame, Nature/Civilization
    2. Animal/Human
    3. Good/Bad
    4. Food/Pet


Part II: Using Animals: Human-Animal Economies

Chapter 4: Animals in the Wild and Human Societies

  1. Subsistence Hunting and the Human-Animal Relationship
  2. Colonial Expansion via the Hunt
  3. Controversies Surrounding Subsistence Hunting
  4. Modern Relationships with Wildlife
    1. Poaching
    2. Bushmeat
    3. Exotic Pet Trade
    4. Economic Conflicts
    5. Eco-tourism

Chapter 5: Display, Performance and Sport

  1. Zoos
    1. History of Zoos
      1. Private Menageries
      2. Colonial Enterprises
      3. Zoos as Conservation
  1. Performing Animals
  2. Animal Sports
  3. Animal Racing
  4. Sport Hunting and Fishing
  5. Theoretical Understandings

Chapter 6: The Domestication of Animals

  1. History of Domestication
    1. Reasons for Domestication
    2. Animals Domesticated
    3. Controlled Breeding
  1. The Role of Gender
  2. Social Implications
    1. The Domination of Animal Bodies
    2. Increase in Inequality
    3. Agriculture and the State

Chapter 7: The Making and Consumption of Meat

  1. Pre-Modern Agricultural Practices
  2. The Production of Meat
  3. Social Geography of Meat
  4. Political Economy of Agribusiness
  5. Meat Taboos
  6. Factory Farming
    1. Ecological and Health Issues
    2. Humane Issues
    3. Labor Issues
    4. Feminist Issues
  7. Cultural Implications of Modern Meat Production and Consumption

Chapter 8: The Idea of the Pet

  1. History of Pet Keeping
  2. Women and Pets
  3. Class Issues
  4. Theories of Pet Keeping
    1. Anthropomorphism
    2. Pets as Social Parasites
    3. Pets as Substitute Kin
    4. Pets as Therapy
    5. Teaching Kindness
  1. Contradictory Attitudes Towards Pets
    1. Family Members
    2. Attachment
    3. Status Symbols
    4. Commodities
    5. Animal Shelters
    6. Disposability
    7. Cruelty and Violence
  1. Development of Humane Attitudes through Pets
  2. The Human-Animal Bond

Chapter 9: Animals and Science

  1. The History of Animals in the History Of Science
  2. Animals as Stand Ins for Humans
  3. The Social Construction of The Lab Animal
  4. Medical Testing
  5. Cosmetic Testing
  6. Alternatives to Animal Use
  7. Cloning and Transgenics
  8. Xenotransplantation
  9. Animals as Subject and Object

Chapter 10: Animal Assisted Activities

  1. Animals as Human Assistants
  2. Animal-Assisted Therapy
  3. Benefits to Humans
  4. Benefits to Animals

Part III: Attitudes towards Animals

Chapter 10: Working with Animals

  1. Ethnographic fieldwork
  2. Slaughterhouse workers
  3. Shelter workers and veterinarians
  4. Laboratory workers

Chapter 11: Violence to Animals

  1. Definitions
  1. Deviant violence
  2. Culturally accepted violence
  3. Institutionalized violence
  1. Most Common Victims
  2. Legislation
  3. Who are the perpetrators?
  4. Violent children and the Link
  5. Domestic violence and animal abuse
  6. Treatment and Prevention
  7. Hoarding: Compassion or Cruelty?

Chapter 12: Inequality

  1. Interlinked systems of exploitation
  2. Othering and Essentializing
  3. Roots of Oppression
  4. Racism, slavery and animal exploitation
  5. Sexism and speciesism

Part IV: Imagining Animals: Animals as Symbol


Chapter 13: Animals in Religion and Folklore

  1. Folkloric Animals
  2. Totem and Taboo
  3. Mythic Animals
  4. Law and Ritual
  5. Animals in Art

Chapter 14: Animals in Human Thought

  1. Language
    1. Animals in Human Classification Systems
    2. Animal Slurs
  2. Mirrors for Human Identities
    1. The Development of Human Selves
    2. Animal Selfhood

Chapter 15: Animals in Literature and Film

  1. Literature
  2. Film
  3. Children and Animals

Part V: Knowing Animals: Advances in Animal Behavior Studies


Chapter 16: Traditional Animal Behavior Studies

  1. Early Behaviorists
  2. Intermediate Studies
  3. Jane Goodall
  4. Cognitive Ethology

Chapter 17: Modern Ethology

  1. Animal Emotions
  2. Animal Intelligence
  3. Animal Language


Part VI: Relating to Animals: Ethical Issues


Chapter 18: The Moral Status of Animals

  1. Philosophical Underpinnings
    1. Utilitarian
    2. Rights-Based
  2. Rights vs. Welfare
  3. Specieism

Chapter 19: The Animal Rights Movement

    1. Classical Thought
    2. Cartesian Philosophy
    3. Enlightenment Thinkers
    4. Modern Approaches
  1. Legislative Aims and Successes
  2. Sociology of the Animal Rights Movement
  3. Place of The Movement in Contemporary Society
  4. Links to Other Social Movements
  5. Conservation

Chapter 20: The Future of Human Animal Studies


Curriculum Vitae


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