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 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.