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Developing Animals

Wildlife and Early American Photography

Matthew Brower

Publication Year: 2011

Pictures of animals are now ubiquitous, but the ability to capture animals on film was a significant challenge in the early era of photography. In Developing Animals, Matthew Brower takes us back to the time when Americans started taking pictures of the animal kingdom, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the moment when photography became a mass medium and wildlife photography an increasingly popular genre.

Developing Animals compellingly investigates the way photography changed our perception of animals. Brower analyzes how photographers created new ideas about animals as they moved from taking pictures of taxidermic specimens in so-called natural settings to the emergence of practices such as camera hunting, which made it possible to capture images of creatures in the wild.

By combining approaches in visual cultural studies and the history of photography, Developing Animals goes further to argue that photography has been essential not only to the understanding of wildlife but also to the conceptual separation of humans and animals.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

When I began this project in the fall of 1998 at the University of Rochester, I was often asked why I wanted to study animals. The topic struck some of my instructors and fellow students as a strange obsession, as the stakes of an inquiry into the representation of animals were not immediately obvious. ...

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Introduction: Capturing Animals

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pp. xiii-xxx

Contemporary American woodlore suggests that to properly respect nature we should “take only photographs and leave only footprints” when we enter the wilderness. In this schema photography appears as a nonintrusive, environmentally friendly activity that shows proper respect for the fragility of nature; taking photographs takes nothing from nature, leaving it undisturbezd. ...

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Chapter 1: A Red Herring: The Animal Body, Representation, and Historicity

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pp. 1-24

The Photographic Exchange Club of London’s Photographic Album of 1857 contained a photograph of a heron titled Piscator No. 2 (Figure 1). The photograph was accompanied by an epigram that read, “And in the weedy moat, the heron fond of solitude alighted. ...

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Chapter 2: Camera Hunting in America

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pp. 25-82

Writing in 1900, the American critic James B. Carrington claimed that “as a test of skill in bagging game there is no comparison between the gun and the camera.”1 In other words, he argued that hunting animals with a camera was more difficult than hunting with a gun. ...

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Chapter 3: The Photographic Blind

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pp. 83-134

In the introduction to the book Photographing Nature, the editors of Time-Life Books suggest that within the logic of the photographs of nature they present, “man is really just an offstage voice” (7). While he might be the “the inventor-operator of the image making apparatus,” they argue that man “is not in the picture itself, and does not belong there” (7). ...

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Chapter 4: The Appearance of Animals: Abbott Thayer, Theodore Roosevelt, and Concealing-Coloration

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pp. 135-192

Nineteenth-century animal photography was characterized by the attempt to make animals visible. This effort can be seen in the development of photographic technology by Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey, and Ottomar Anschütz to capture mobile animal bodies; the adaptation of hunting techniques to make uncooperative animal bodies photographable; ...

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Conclusion: Developing Animals

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pp. 193-198

Since the announcement of photography in 1839, there have been an ever-increasing number of cameras pointed at animals in nature. The resulting photographs bear, in varying degrees, the traces of the animals in front of the lens and the humans behind them. ...


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pp. 199-238


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pp. 239-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780816674961
E-ISBN-10: 0816674965
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816654796

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2011