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Beauty and the Beast

Human-Animal Relations as Revealed in Real Photo Postcards, 1905–1935

Arnold Arluke and Robert Bogdan

Publication Year: 2010

From fairy tales to photography, nowhere is the complexity of human-animal relationships more apparent than in the creative arts. Art illuminates the nature and significance of animals in modern, Western thought, capturing the complicated union that has long existed between the animal kingdom and us. In Beauty and the Beast, authors Arluke and Bogdan explore this relationship through the unique lens of photo postcards. This visual medium offers an enormous and relatively untapped archive to document their subject compellingly.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

We started this book as an experiment. The question that drove us was what would happen if we took a large number of old photographs from a particular historical period that contained information about a specific topic and treated them as data? Our idea was to apply some of the same logic and techniques we had...


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pp. xv-xvi

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1. Animals, Humans, and Postcards

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pp. 1-8

This book uses photo postcards to tell the story of human-animal relations in the United States from approximately 1905 to 1935. Photo postcards, postcards printed directly from negatives on commercially produced postcard stock, bring us back to a time when human-animal relations were pervasive and...

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2. Pets

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pp. 9-36

The contented fellow in the illustration above put on his best clothes and took his dog to a local photographer to have this picture taken. He placed the dog on the chair and tried to get him to look at the camera, but the dog preferred his master’s face. The owner...

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3. Mascots

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pp. 37-52

The phrase “animal mascot” signifies three aspects of a creature’s relationship to a human group. First, it is a companion to many people at once. Mascots play a role similar to the one pets play, but instead of being a friend to a person or a family, mascots become buddies to dozens, or even hundreds, of people, who teach them...

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4. Workers

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pp. 53-82

In the illustration that starts this chapter, a team of horses pulls a wagon with supplies for settlers from Nebraska arriving in the early 1900s at what would become the city of Richvale, California. We use it to symbolize all the working animals that labored for...

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5. Food and Goods

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pp. 83-108

Horses and other working animals spent their lives serving humans by supplying labor. Cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, and other domestic creatures contributed to human society in a different capacity. They lived and died to supply meat, hides, milk, eggs, wool, and hundreds of other products to their owners. The bodies...

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6. Patients and Needy

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pp. 109-128

People exploited animals for their own gratification in most of the human and animal relationships we have described thus far. In this chapter we look at animals as patients and as objects of humanitarian concern. We focus on veterinarians’ services as well as humane workers’ efforts to prevent the mistreatment...

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7. Vermin

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pp. 129-140

A dimension of human-animal relationships that we have not explored is hatred for particular species. At the beginning of the twentieth century most mammals were greeted with positive regard or at least considered benign creatures, but there were exceptions. Some...

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8. Game

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pp. 141-167

The image that launches this chapter may seem strange to people who live in this age where cities dominate and an active antihunting movement exists (illustration 8.1). What contributes to its unreal quality is the painted studio backdrop, an artist’s romantic rendering of the western wilderness. As we will...

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9. Trophies, Specimens, and Furs

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pp. 168-186

The most common reason for killing wild animals was to consume their flesh or to engage in outdoor sports. But there were other justifications. During the postcard era preserving animals was another reason to kill them (Desmond 2002, 159). It was fashionable to display mounted animal trophies and specimens, as well...

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10. Spectacles

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pp. 187-211

The postcard era was a time of widespread and lavish public displays of animals for the purposes of human education, amusement, and profit. In no other period of American history were animals exhibited with such frequency or did they draw larger crowds. At the turn of the century the circus, an institution...

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11. Sports

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pp. 212-229

Circuses and zoos were not the only early-twentieth- century venues where people exhibited animals and made them perform for viewers. Certain sporting events did so too, albeit with a competitive twist. Some sports pitted animals against one another, such as dog or cockfighting. Others pitted humans against...

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12. Symbols

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pp. 230-247

We live in a symbolic zoo. Everywhere we look, wherever we go, whenever we think and speak, animals appear not just as flesh-and-blood objects but also as codes for something else. Our products and their packaging are adorned with animal symbols that attract consumer attention by associating the item being sold...

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13. Living with Inconsistencies, Past and Present

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pp. 248-253

We started this book discussing the centuries-old fairy tale Beauty and the Beast and pointing to themes we would address in the chapters that followed. Central to our discussion were the inconsistencies, dualisms, ambiguities, and paradoxes of the story and their parallels in early-twentieth-century human-animal...


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pp. 257-265


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pp. 267-276

E-ISBN-13: 9780815650911
E-ISBN-10: 0815650914
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609810
Print-ISBN-10: 0815609817

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 359 black and white illustrations
Publication Year: 2010