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The Photographed Cat

Picturing Human-Feline Ties 1890-1940

by Arnold Arluke and Lauren Rolfe

Publication Year: 2013

The Photographed Cat presents readers with an examination of how human-cat relationships are depicted in early twentieth-century photography. Examining this relationship from the perspective of the photographer and the human subjects who made or appear in these photographs, Arluke and Rolfe show that the cat photographs are valuable windows into sets of cultural values that may have existed at the time.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Cover, Front Flap

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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xvi

The original narrative of progress casts people— armed with science and technology—as warrior kings subduing nature. Confidence in this tale, however, has eroded since the mid–twentieth century. Today, people no longer admire large corporate organizations for their machine-like efficiency ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

We wrote The Photographed Cat for many audiences. Pet lovers and others interested in domestic animals, especially those having cats themselves can enjoy seeing how photographs depicted human relationships with cats a century ago. Our book is quite different from the scores of photography books about cats, ...


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pp. xix-xx

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1. Picturing Friends

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pp. 1-16

Until the 1880s, people had only one option for making treasured memories of their animals. Those who could afford it had studio artists paint their favorite pets1 or trophy-winning cows (Grier 2006). The development of the camera changed all of this. ...

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2. Unstill Life

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pp. 17-37

Photographic portraits focus on a person’s face and expression, although entire bodies or backgrounds are sometimes present. Rather than being mere snapshots, these photographs can be composed or staged, with subjects often looking directly into the camera and in turn at the viewer of the image. ...

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3. Two as One

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pp. 38-55

Photographic portraits of cats entertained people a century ago. Many were light, whimsical images that might have elicited a smile one second and been forgotten the next. These cats were objects to admire for their beauty or cuteness or to laugh at as silly caricatures of humans. ...

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4. Domestic Privileges

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pp. 56-77

Humans have long recognized that animals have thoughts and feelings, but beginning in the late nineteenth century people started to take animals more seriously. Pet owners became freer to express their experiences with their animals and attribute agency and awareness to them (Grier 2006). ...

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5. Gender Displays

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pp. 78-94

Cultural norms influence our interpersonal ties, establishing what other people and animals we connect with and how. Part of our modern thinking about pet keeping is the association of certain pets with men and others with women. People have historically identified dogs as masculine and cats as feminine (Serpell 1988). ...

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6. Citizen Cat

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pp. 95-112

Although men appeared wary to be photographed with cats, much less be depicted in sentimental ways with them, in a different context these gendered reservations were relaxed in front of the camera. Photographs posing naval crewmen with their ship’s cat mascots frequently and prominently pictured close relationships with these animals. ...

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7. Peaceable Kingdom

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pp. 113-122

To better understand the importance and meaning of the images in this book, we need to step back and consider them as a group. To write them off as mere snapshots in the narrowest of ways suggests that the photographs were casually made with little forethought and carried little or no emotional value to the people who appeared in them, ...


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pp. 123-130


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pp. 131-134

Back Flap, Back Cover

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pp. 159-160

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652465
E-ISBN-10: 0815652461
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815610267
Print-ISBN-10: 0815610262

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 130 duotone photos
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867740985
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Photographed Cat

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Human-animal relationships -- History.
  • Cats -- History.
  • Cat owners -- History.
  • Cats -- Pictorial works.
  • Photography of animals -- History.
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