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Gorgeous Beasts

Animal Bodies in Historical Perspective

Edited by Joan B. Landes, Paula Young Lee, and Paul Youngquist

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: Penn State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii

The editors thank the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities, Dean Susan Welch, and the College of Liberal Arts for support of this publication, and the members of the Visualizing Animals Interdisciplinary Project and the Finding Animals Conference, from which the book developed. We are deeply...

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pp. 1-20

Lately there have been foxes. Outside the office window appeared the agouti shape of a lithe interloper. She basked in the winter sun, half-asleep on a stone seat in an adjacent amphitheater, comfortable and incongruous. Later, in London, the wind a hard...

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ONE Animal Subjects Between Nature and Invention in Buffon’s Natural History Illustrations

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pp. 21-40

At the invitation of the French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, Pablo Picasso undertook in 1936–37 the creation of a suite of thirty-two sugar-lift aquatint prints to illustrate a proposed modern edition of excerpts from the eighteenthcentury monumental...

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TWO Renaissance Animal Things

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pp. 41-56

In their Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550–1820, Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl record “nearly 4,000 terms found used in documents relating to trade and retail in early modern Britain.” The objects listed in the dictionary range from the...

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THREE The Cujo Effect

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pp. 57-72

In Lewis Teague’s 1983 horror film Cujo, a good dog goes bad.1 A sweet, furry family pet acquires a taste for human blood—with ill effects. Unbeknownst to its owners, the fluffy St. Bernard has suffered a painful encounter with a vampire bat, usually native

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FOUR On Vulnerability

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pp. 73-88

In his 1806 encyclopedia of images, Microcosm, William Henry Pyne illustrates the daily tasks of rural peasant life. Workers draw water from a well, bale hay, shoe horses, tend cattle, and watch over sheep. As A. E. Santaniello’s introduction explains, “The men and...

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FIVE The Rights of Man and the Rights of Animality at the End of the Eighteenth Century

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pp. 89-104

Since antiquity, philosophers have acknowledged Aristotle’s claim that man is a political animal.1 Yet the converse claim that animals are political subjects remained controversial at the end of the eighteenth century, when the French Revolution shook...

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SIX Calling the Wild

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pp. 105-116

When Byron wrote that “the Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold” (“The Destruction of Sennacherib,” 1815), his audience had no trouble understanding the simile or feeling its force, even though wolves had not threatened most British flocks since..

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SEVEN Trophies and Taxidermy

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pp. 117-136

Whatever else one might take from it, those who have seen Douglas Gordon’s installation Play Dead; Real Time, originally shown in the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 2003 (fig. 25), have probably considered the work to be also about elephants. The piece..

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EIGHT Fishing for Biomass

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pp. 137-150

The Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland on Canada’s east coast once teemed with such an abundance of codfish that they reportedly choked the passage of vessels. About five hundred years after the discovery of the New World, in 1992, fishing trawlers...

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NINE Daniel Spoerri’s Carnival of Animals

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pp. 151-166

With this comment on the play between animal tales, proverbs, and science in his autobiographical Anekdotomania, Romanian-born, Europe-based artist Daniel Spoerri (b. 1930) suggests the genesis of his probing juxtaposition of animal and human physiognomy...

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A Conversation with the Artist Mark Dion

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pp. 167-178

Gorgeous Beasts, the title of our volume, calls attention to the doubleness of human relations with animals: we are both captivated and repelled by animals. We adopt them as pets, hunt them for food or trophies, collect them in...

Images [Image Plates]

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pp. 179-202


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pp. 203-222

about the contributors

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pp. 223-224


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pp. 225-258

E-ISBN-13: 9780271058207
E-ISBN-10: 027105820X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271054018
Print-ISBN-10: 0271054018

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Animals and civilization -- History.
  • Human-animal relationships -- History.
  • Animals and history.
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