The Photographed Cat: Picturing Human-Feline Ties, 1890-1940

The Photographed Cat: Picturing Human-Feline Ties, 1890-1940

by Arnold Arluke
     
 

The Photographed Cat presents readers with an examination of how human-cat relationships are depicted in early twentieth-century photography. Examining this relationship from the perspective of the photographer and the human subjects who made or appear in these photographs, Arluke and Rolfe show that the cat photographs are valuable windows into sets of cultural

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Overview

The Photographed Cat presents readers with an examination of how human-cat relationships are depicted in early twentieth-century photography. Examining this relationship from the perspective of the photographer and the human subjects who made or appear in these photographs, Arluke and Rolfe show that the cat photographs are valuable windows into sets of cultural values that may have existed at the time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
In this combined photo archive and analysis, Arluke, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Northeastern University, and Rolfe, a collector of early 20th century animal photographs, cite a lingering ambivalence about cats, for "centuries" considered to be "witches' familiars, disease carriers, pests." Consequently, cat pictures from the early 1900's are rare, despite the fact that "twenty-five million Americans had pet cats." As photography became available to amateurs, and a "craze" for "photo postcards" swept the nation, feline companions found their way into pictures. Cats were pictured with "family members," as "surrogate infants or children or mothers"; and sailors, wary of being "depicted in sentimental ways" with cats at home, posed "with their ship's cat mascots" as a way of boosting onboard morale and assuring distant family that they were happy at sea. This book is undoubtedly a work of scholarship, and as such makes well-argued points, assessing the nature of cat-human relations and cat photographs in seven thematic sections; however, the clinical approach and erudite language may prove impenetrable to the casual cat-lover. 130 duotone illus. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815610267
Publisher:
Syracuse University Press
Publication date:
09/15/2013
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,131,722
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.70(d)

What People are saying about this

Journal of American Culture
One comes away from The Photographed Cat with an understanding of the evolution of human-animal relationships and the realization that Americans have long loved and pampered their pets, regarding them as intimate friends and cherished family members. The text of the book is well-written and insightful and avoids sentimentality. The photographs are even more spot-on and stunning. Those interested in animal sociology,
the American family, or early twentieth-century photography will appreciate this book—as, of course,
will cat lovers.

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