×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Civilized Creatures: Urban Animals, Sentimental Culture, and American Literature, 1850-1900
     

Civilized Creatures: Urban Animals, Sentimental Culture, and American Literature, 1850-1900

by Jennifer Mason
 

In Civilized Creatures, Jennifer Mason challenges some of our most enduring ideas about how encounters with nonhuman nature shaped American literature and culture. Mason argues that in the second half of the nineteenth century the most powerful influence on Americans' understanding of their affinities with animals was not increasing separation from the

Overview

In Civilized Creatures, Jennifer Mason challenges some of our most enduring ideas about how encounters with nonhuman nature shaped American literature and culture. Mason argues that in the second half of the nineteenth century the most powerful influence on Americans' understanding of their affinities with animals was not increasing separation from the pastoral and the wilderness; instead, it was the population's feelings about the ostensibly civilized animals they encountered in their daily lives.

Americans of diverse backgrounds, Mason shows, found it attractive as well as politic to imagine themselves as most closely connected to those creatures who shared humans' aptitude for civilized life. And to the minds of many in this period, national prosperity depended less on periodic exposure to untamed, wild nature than it did on the proper care and keeping of such animals within suburban and urban environments.

Combining literary analysis with cultural histories of equestrianism, petkeeping, and the animal welfare movement, Civilized Creatures offers new readings of works by Susan Warner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Charles W. Chesnutt. In each case, Mason demonstrates that understanding contemporary relationships between humans and animals is essential for understanding the debates about gender, race, and cultural power enacted in these texts.

Editorial Reviews

New England Quarterly
Intelligent, ambitious... Thoughtful and carefully written and should spur more work along the same lines.

— Nina Baym

Journal of American History
Civilized Creatures is a thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of the nineteenth-century politics of affect.

— Glenn Hendler

New England Quarterly - Nina Baym

Intelligent, ambitious... Thoughtful and carefully written and should spur more work along the same lines.

Journal of American History - Glenn Hendler

Civilized Creatures is a thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of the nineteenth-century politics of affect.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801880711
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
06/24/2005
Series:
Animals, History, Culture
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Mason has taught English at Southern Methodist University and Skidmore College.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews