Introduction: Modernity for Animals?

  • Susan Nance


This chapter first defines Keith Thomas’ concept of the human dilemma of modern life wherein people benefited materially from but were conflicted about the mass killing and exploitation of animals. It then critiques the historical literature on modernity for excluding consideration of how modern phenomena have shaped animal life, then reviews Animal Studies work on human-animal relationships in modernity, and historical literature documenting particular elements of nineteenth-century human-animal relations. Next, animal modernity is defined as a theoretical advance that addresses a broad human population to explain how people coped with Thomas’ human dilemma. Thereafter, the 1880s life and material history of Jumbo the elephant provides the book’s case study of animal celebrity — the apex of animal modernity — which linked modern animals to global consumerism.


animal history human-animal relationships Jumbo Keith Thomas modernity 


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Copyright information

© Susan Nance 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Nance
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GuelphCanada

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