Elephant Trails: A History of Animals and Cultures
Elephant Trails is the result of almost twenty years of research and writing about the importance of elephants in human thoughts. Over millennia, elephants have preoccupied writers, artists, philosophers, and everyone else more than perhaps any other non-domestic animal. I started the research because I wanted to write a biography of a particular elephant, in thinking about how to do that, I realized I needed to trace a much deeper history. When we say “elephants never forget,” or we believe that elephants have rich emotional lives, or we are transfixed before an internet video of an elephant appearing to paint a portrait of an elephant, I believe there is much more going on than straight-forward efforts to describe another creature of the planet. Elephants are not what we think they are. The book was published in November, 2021, by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Elephant House (with photographs by Dick Blau)
Elephant House grew out of conversations with the artist Dick Blau about photographs of elephants. Eventually, we began looking for a zoological garden that would be willing to let us come in and learn about the lives of elephants and their caregivers. The Oregon Zoo in Portland, OR, welcomed us and that began a complex and challenging project lasting three years. The book was published by Penn State University Press in 2015
Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo
Savages and Beasts was the second volume in Harriet Ritvo’s Animals, History, Culture series with Johns Hopkins University Press and was published in 2002. Paperback editions were released in 2008 and 2012. The book was reviewed in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Chronicle for Higher Education, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Frankfurter Rundschau, the American Historical Review, Isis, the Journal of Modern History, International Zoo News, Anthrozoös, Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies, and elsewhere.
Representing Animals is a multidisciplinary collection that grew out of a year of research dedicated to the same theme at the then Center for Twentieth Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The collection was published in 2002 by Indiana University Press as part of the series Theories of Contemporary Culture and includes essays by: Steve Baker, Marcus Bullock, Jane Desmond, Erica Fudge, Andrew Isenberg, Kathleen Kete, Akira Mizuta Lippit, Teresa Mangum, Garry Marvin, and Susan McHugh. I edited the collection and wrote an “Introduction” and one of the essays. The collection is used widely and is seen as one of the foundation texts in Animal Studies.