Category Archives: Interdisciplinary Studies

Ann C. Colley on Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain

 

Ann C ColleyPosted by Ann Donahue, Publisher

Ann C. Colley (pictured) talks to Ann Donahue about her new book, Wild Animal Skins in Victorian Britain: Zoos, Collections, Portraits, and Maps

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I had just finished my Victorians in the Mountains: Sinking the Sublime, which had not only appealed to my love of landscape and admiration for climbers, but had also taken me to libraries and clubs on both sides of the Atlantic. It was when I entered the Wellcome Institute on Euston Road that something clicked. The Institute had launched a special exhibit on “Skin” that I found absolutely fascinating. I recall seeing pieces of tattooed skin taken from sailors in the nineteenth century and wondering about the role of skin and identity. Knowing that the role of skin in human portraiture during the Victorian era has been well rehearsed, I turned my thinking to animal skins and portraiture. Before I knew it, I was launched.

Wild animal skins in Victorian BritainYour book connects to so many areas of current interest in the humanities, including animal studies, museums, collecting, sensory studies, and the history of science. Were you surprised at the multiple directions in which your research led you?

No. Indeed I was drawn to the subject because it would do just that. Cultural studies are appealing because they engage so many intersecting disciplines and take one into unusual archives and libraries not open to the general public. Once I began accumulating materials, I immediately saw that the project would fit into the current interest in animal studies, museum studies, theories of portraiture, British colonialism, collecting, theories of touch and skin, as well as in history of science.

You came upon some fascinating characters in the course of your research, including the Earl of Derby. Can you say a few words about him as a collector and his association with Edward Lear?

For several years I have been buying Lear’s watercolor sketches as well as lithographs of his natural history paintings. Through this interest, of course, I knew that between 1831 and 1837, he was employed by the 12th Earl of Derby and later by the Earl’s son to sketch and paint portraits of the wild animals and exotic birds kept on the estate, which was the site of England’s largest private menagerie. To amass their amazing collection, the 12th and the 13th Earls commissioned collectors and agents from all over the world. The resulting correspondence between the 13th Earl of Derby and these agents makes for incredible reading. Lear was privy to this world and to those who worked for and were related to the Earl of Derby.

I was fascinated to learn that collecting animal skins was not just the prerogative of the privileged classes as I would have thought that collecting these specimens would be extremely costly. How common was this form of collecting among working- and middle-class individuals?

There are several studies of the working class and their interest in science, particularly those that discuss the fact that mill owners and manufacturers often encouraged their employees to learn as much as they could about the sciences so as to create a more knowledgeable workforce. Jane Camerini, John M. MaKenzie, E.P. Thompson, and Katie Whitaker, among others, have all written on the topic. For me, the most convincing and vivid evidence came from Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton in which she makes a point of mentioning that the working-class men of Manchester were “warm and devoted followers” of the “more popularly interesting branches of natural history.” They “knew the name and habitat of every plant within a day’s walk from their dwelling.” Her character Job Legh, a self-educated spinner, who has access to the Liverpool docks where sailors would return with exotic specimens, is one of these “warm and devoted followers.”

In some ways, the interest in animal skins strikes me as analogous to the Victorians’ passion for travel writing. What was it about these specimens that was so appealing?

I, myself, travel to exotic places and write accounts of my sometimes disastrous adventures and have found that the wild life of a place is what defines the experience for me. When I was working on Wild Animal Skins, I discovered a similar impulse was at work among the Victorian public, who were fascinated by exotic birds and animals in faraway lands and would go to great lengths to see exhibits of these, to collect them (though I hasten to add I do not own any taxidermy specimens!), and to learn as much as it could about them. As I say in the introduction to my book “skin was not only a basic ingredient of portraiture but also the site of encounter with the exotic world.”

Many people would find a home adorned with animal skins from so-called exotic locales shocking and collecting such specimens is often illegal. Was the collecting of wild animal skins controversial during the Victorian era?

No. Unlike many, perhaps most, people today, the Victorians experienced little sense of guilt in looking at, owning, arranging, and admiring stuffed birds and animals. They rarely, if at all, thought about extinction. Even Darwin shot the last fox on the Galapagos Island. For them the distant world was full of plenty. That is not to say the Victorians were insensitive to the pain inflicted on animals. One has to remember that it is in the Victorian period that the antivivisectionists were active. I am not sure why, but taxidermy is coming back in style. One can go to a booth at a market in London to learn how to remove the skin of a bird or a mouse and stuff it. At a wedding recently I met a person from Brooklyn who practices taxidermy in her apartment. Skin will always elicit pleasure, disgust, and curiosity.

About the Author: Ann C. Colley is a SUNY Distinguished Professor at the State University College of New York at Buffalo. She has published numerous articles and books, including Victorians in the Mountains, Robert Louis Stevenson and the Colonial Imagination, Nostalgia and Recollection in Victorian Culture, The Search for Synthesis in Literature and Art: The Paradox of Space, Edward Lear and the Critics, and Tennyson and Madness.

Tourism Books from Ashgate and Gower

Posted by Katy Crossan, Commissioning Editor

Our high quality Tourism list has gone from strength to strength in the last few years, with a strong focus on heritage tourism, tourism and culture and sustainable tourism. The study of tourism is inherently interdisciplinary and with this in mind we have brought together our key books on tourism research from across our social science, humanities and business publishing programmes in this new Tourism webpage to make it easier to navigate the titles and series we offer in this area.

Some recent book highlights include:

Tourism destination developmentTourism Destination Development (edited by Arvid Viken and Brynhild Granås, UiT – the Arctic University of Norway)

’If tourism’s formative power in the making of societies is acknowledged, few contributions take this point as comprehensively into social science as this impressive volume edited by Viken and Granås. Through critical thinking and theoretically informative case studies, readers are taken aboard reflexive and situated investigations of the plural and multiple ways in which tourist destinations develop.’   Jørgen Ole Bærenholdt, Roskilde University, Denmark

Volunteer tourismVolunteer Tourism (Mary Mostafanezhad, University of Hawai’i, Mānoa)

‘While excoriating volunteer tourism’s neoliberal underpinnings, this marvellous study also documents its transformative cosmopolitan hope for tourists, humanitarian organizations, and host communities that engage. A must read for anyone wanting to understand tourism’s potential for social justice, and why this is so difficult to achieve.’   Margaret Byrne Swain, University of California, Davis, USA

Travel tourism and artTravel, Tourism and Art (Edited by Tijana Rakić, Edinburgh Napier University and Jo-Anne Lester, University of Brighton)

‘Rakic and Lester have brought together a timely compendium of resources. In fifteen disciplinarily-diverse essays, the reader will learn about the historical, theoretical, and aesthetic dimensions of travel and culture. The anthology demonstrates that tourism and the arts are inextricably linked. A must-have for anyone interested in understanding how leisure is both meaningful and meaning making.’    Laurie Beth Clark, University of Wisconsin, USA

100th volume published in the Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

Autobiographical writing by early modern hispanic womenAshgate will publish the one hundredth title in the Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series in January 2015. The series editors, Allyson Poska and Abby Zanger produced their first volume in 2000 (Maternal Measures, Naomi J. Miller and Naomi Yavneh). Fifteen years later, we can announce the one hundredth title is Autobiographical Writing by Early Modern Hispanic Women by Elizabeth Teresa Howe. The work focuses on the contributions of women writers to the study of life writing, and offers a symmetrical theme to the initial volume in the series.

We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to Allyson Poska and Abby Zanger, as well as thanking them for their dedication to their role. To view the Women and Gender in the Early Modern World Series in its entirety, and to read an interview with the series editors, please click here.

Forthcoming titles in the series:

 

Between apes and angels, animals and Ashgate: authors to attend animal studies conference at University of Edinburgh

Posted by Ally Berthiaume, Editorial Assistant

Animal Studies is a trending topic in academe with an increased production of literature across the disciplines. Ashgate is positioned within this rising canon, having contributed at least twenty titles to this growing body of animal-studies scholarship. Among these is Ashgate’s newly published collection, Animals and Early Modern Identity, edited by Pia F. Cuneo.Animals and early modern identity

Animals and Early Modern Identity spans the globe, including works from scholars in the United States, Europe and Africa. Apart from the range of the contributors’ geographical locations, there is also great diversity among the animal species appearing within these essays – from horses, dogs, and pigs to rhinoceroses, sea monsters, and other creatures. As Cuneo succinctly puts it in her introduction:

The wide array of disciplines, geographies, and species represented in the volume speaks to the vigor of intellectual inquiry into the subject of animal and nonhuman animal interaction in the early modern period (1400–1700).

Holding it all together, she asserts, is the issue of identity. This collection investigates what kinds of identities were developed by the interaction between human and animal; how these were expressed, for what reason, and with who were they shared. Each essay centers on the ways in which humans use animals to say something about themselves.

The expansion of ‘animal studies’ as a field, and the extent of the range of inquiry contained within it, is evidenced not only by the number and variety of academic publications, but also by a proliferation of conference panels – and sometimes whole conferences –  dedicated to the theme.  The past year or so has seen a number of these, crossing multiple disciplines and time periods, culminating this week with:  Animals and Critical Heritage and Between Apes & Angels: Human and Animal in the Early Modern World.

The latter conference features several contributing authors to Animals and Early Modern Identity as speakers, thus underlining the timeliness and significance of the volume.

Pia F. Cuneo is Professor of Art History at the University of Arizona, USA.  Her current work focuses on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century hippology, and she competes locally in dressage.

To see other Animal Studies titles click here.

Hallowe’en Highlights from Ashgate Publishing

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

Rather than donning costumes and engaging in some trick or treating, we thought that we would take you on a tour of some of our most ghoulish publications to date.

Literary and Cinematic MonstersTo start us off, this time last year we published The Ashgate Encyclopedia to Literary and Cinematic Monsters, a useful A-Z from J.K Rowling’s acromantula through to zombies. In a similar vein, The Ashgate Research Companion to Monsters and the Monstrous is now available in handy paperback format. A must-have for all beast buffs.

Staying in the supernatural world, the Sociology list launched The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures late last year. The companion explores internet phenomena (such as Slenderman and Creepypasta), mediumship, and the paranormal in subcultures and its role in social change to name but a few.

American Imperial GothicIn April, the Sociology list produced The American Imperial Gothic. The book contends that the peril faced by the world in popular culture is related to our current global instability. Kirsten Lacefield’s The Scary Screen discusses similar issues. She scrutinizes many interpretations of The Ring and how they express anxieties of new media and technologies. The horror genre is a popular field of academic research of late. Anne Hermanson investigates this topic in The Horror Plays of the English Restoration. She makes a comprehensive analysis of monstrosity, madness, disease and the macabre on the London stage in the 1670s.

Gothic, Horror and Gore genres are often related to the study of science and medicine. Wounds in the Middle Ages researches representations of broken bodies and charts the perceptions and treatment of wounds within religious belief, writing on medicine, and surgical practice. Surgical dissection and post-mortem is the subject of Piers Mitchell’s 2012 publication Anatomical Dissection in Enlightenment England and Beyond. He examines discoveries by biological anthropologists (alongside experts from British medical schools and the Royal College of Surgeons) who have unearthed new evidence about how bodies were dissected and autopsied in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Continuing within the nineteenth century, The Ashgate Research Companion to Nineteenth Century Spiritualism and the Occult covers the relationship between science and Victorian spiritualism, the occult and politics, and the culture of mystical practices.

To conclude our whistle-stop journey, we can’t neglect to mention witches! Marks of an Absolute Witch by Orna Alyagon Darr explores the crime of witchcraft in early modern England, and how we can observe the social and judicial attitudes towards crime and punishment through the witch trials and the ‘evidence’ presented at them. Moving swiftly to early modern Germany, H.C Erik Midelfort collects together some of his work on the history of madness, demonology, witchcraft and the social history of religious change in his 2013 Variorum title Witchcraft, Madness, Society, and Religion in Early Modern Germany. Finally, Sarah Williams explores the roles of broadside ballads in the early modern witch craze and the connections the music made between degrees of female crime, the supernatural and cautionary tales for and about women in Damnable Practices: Witches, Dangerous Women, and Music in Seventeenth-Century English Broadside Ballads.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Other titles of Interest:

  • English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829
  • Women and the Material Culture of Death
  • Domestic Murder in Nineteenth-Century England
  • Narratives of Women and Murder in England, 1680-1760
  • Women, Infanticide and the Press, 1822-1922
  • Supernatural and Secular Power in Early Modern England
  • The Late Victorian Gothic
  • Transnational Gothic
  • The Geneaology of Cyborgothic

Claire Jowitt and John McAleer introduce their new book series Maritime Humanities 1400‒1800: Cultures of the Sea

‘… whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world .’ (Sir Walter Ralegh)

So wrote Ralegh, probably from his quarters in the Tower of London during his admittedly luxurious incarceration there after spectacularly falling out of royal favour (he was condemned for treason in 1603, but reprieved from execution and lived, legally dead, in the Bloody Tower for many years). From the Tower, Ralegh would have been able to see just how busy a thoroughfare the arterial river the Thames had become, with ships and boats great and small bringing an enormous and exciting variety of commodities from Africa to China, from the East to the West Indies, and, of course, from all across Europe, as well as exporting men and goods all over the world. Oceans had a lot to offer even to a disgraced courtier and adventurer: finally, in 1617, Ralegh was allowed to return to sea by James I to travel to Guiana to attempt to reestablish his own and English mining interests there after a gap of twenty years or so. Of course for Ralegh this time, unlike in his earlier career, the sea did not provide a route to preferment and riches: the voyage resulted in violent clashes with the Spanish in Guiana. He was accused of piracy by them, and the king had his previously commuted sentence enacted on 16th October 1618 in Old Palace Yard in the Palace of Westminster. But viewing oceans as spaces and places of opportunity, risk, and challenge is as true for scholars today as it was for sailors and merchants, monarchs and governments, and writers and artists, in the days of the sailing ship.

For Ralegh and his European contemporaries, wealth and power were found at sea. Or, more precisely, they were to be found in controlling the world’s oceans and their maritime routes. Overseas trade went hand in hand with the development of global empire in the Age of Sail, a period of history particularly marked by increased exploration, travel, and trade. But the early modern maritime world offered much else besides: it facilitated the movement of people and ideas as well as the violence and exploitation of encounter and, in so doing, it opened up a whole host of new cultural and artistic exchanges as well as material ones. Early modern oceans not only provided temperate climates, resources, and opportunities for commercial transactions, they also played a central role in cultural life. Early modern seascapes were cultural spaces and contact zones, where connections and circulations occurred outside established centres of control and the dictates of individual national histories. Likewise coastlines, rivers, and ports were all key sites for commercial and cultural exchange.

Fresh investigation of these processes, encounters, interactions, and their implications is needed. We are delighted to announce a new book series Maritime Humanities 1400‒1800: Cultures of the Sea, to be published by Ashgate. Our aim is to produce a series of books that explore the cultural meanings of the early modern ocean by scholars working across the full range of humanities subjects.

Maritime Humanities 1400‒1800: Cultures of the Sea welcomes books from historians, archaeologists, literary and language scholars, art historians, philosophers, and music scholars, and invites submissions that conceptually engage with issues of globalization, post-colonialism, eco-criticism, environmentalism, and the histories of science and technology. The series puts maritime humanities at the centre of a transnational historiographical scholarship that seeks to transform traditional land-based histories of states and nations by focusing on the cultural meanings of the early modern ocean.

It is a daunting but exciting task, and we will be helped in it by an international series advisory board that includes scholars at the forefront of interdisciplinary maritime studies: Mary Fuller, Fred Hocker, Steve Mentz, Sebastian Sobecki, David J. Starkey, and Philip Stern. The series will cover events in various oceans, several centuries of history, thousands of vessels, tens of thousands of voyages, and millions of people. But we believe that there are lots of scholars, at every stage of their careers, who are interested in putting the sea into perspective: if you are one of them, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Claire Jowitt & John McAleer, May 2014

For more information on how to submit a book proposal to the series, please contact Emily Yates, Commissioning Editor.

About the series editors:

Claire Jowitt John McAleer

Claire Jowitt is Professor of Renaissance English Literature, and John McAleer is Lecturer in History, both at the University of Southampton.

Recent reviews by the LSE Review of Books

The LSE Review of Books regularly features Ashgate titles. It’s a fantastic site for book reviews in general, and covers a wide range of social science topics, including sociology, politics and IR, architecture, planning, gender studies, to name just a few.

Recent reviews of Ashgate books include:

Dynamics of Political Violence: A Process-Oriented Perspective on Radicalisation and the Escalation of Political Conflict, edited by Lorenzo Bosi, Chares Demetriou and Stefan Malthaner

Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency by Scott Gates and Kaushik Roy

The Greening of Architecture: A Critical History and Survey of Contemporary Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design, by Phillip James Tabb and A. Senem Deviren

Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss and Beauty in Popular Culture by Deborah Harris-Moore

The Impact of Racism on African American Families: Literature as Social Science by Paul C. Rosenblatt

The Greening of ArchitectureUnconventional warfare in south asiaThe impact of racism on african american familiesDynamics of political violence

For more reviews visit the LSE Review of Books