Animal history after its triumph: Unexpected animals, evolutionary approaches, and the animal lens

Joshua Albert Specht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Part of a broad animal turn in the humanities, animal history is now a large, mature field. Taking the triumph of animal history as a starting point, this essay draws from scholarship on a diversity of places and time periods to provide a state of the field. The discussion opens with an account of a central theme in animal history: the “animal lens.” This lens uses animals to explore broad historical phenomena, from industrialization to ideas about gender. Next is a discussion of two recent trends in animal history: (1) scholarship on “unexpected animals” and (2) evolutionary history, which examines how humans have shaped animal bodies over time. The overview closes with a discussion of agency, suggesting that the field abandons this paradigm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-336
Number of pages11
JournalHistory Compass
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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