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Lisa Moore Interim, Director 2505 University Avenue, A4900, Burdine Hall 536, Austin Texas 78712 • 512-471-5765

Janet M. Davis

Core Faculty Ph.D., History, University of Wisconsin (Madison)

Associate Professor
Janet M. Davis

Contact

Biography

Professor Davis was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1964, three days after a devastating Alaskan earthquake triggered tsunami warnings across the Hawaiian Islands and beyond. She spent the majority of her childhood and young adulthood in the Upper Midwest—with intermediate stops on study abroad programs in Germany and India. From 1986-1989, Professor Davis worked as a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines.  She finished her Ph.D. in U.S. History in 1998 and landed at the University of Texas that fall.

Research Interests

U.S. cultural and social history; popular culture; social thought; animal studies; women’s and gender history; U.S. social movements; modern South Asia

Publications

Professor Davis is currently writing a book, “The Gospel of Kindness: Animal Welfare and the Making of Modern America” (under contract with Oxford University Press). “The Gospel of Kindness” analyzes the relationship between the growth and development of the U.S. animal welfare movement and ideologies of American benevolence and exceptionalism from the Second Great Awakening to the eve of World War II.  The project pays special attention to the religious dimensions of the movement, as well as its relationship to American expansionism. Professor Davis is also the author of The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), the winner of a Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award; the Robert W. Hamilton Book Award; and a finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association.  Professor Davis is also the editor of Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Life of Tiny Kline (University of Illinois Press, 2008), by Tiny Kline. Professor Davis works regularly as a consultant for museum exhibitions and documentary films. She has received fellowships from FLAS VI in Hindi, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Courses taught

Professor Davis teaches Introduction to American Studies, both halves of Main Currents in American Culture, and specialized seminars in U.S. social and cultural history; popular culture; animal studies; women’s and gender history; cultural approaches to U.S. foreign relations; and U.S. social movements. Professor Davis has won the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award (2004), as well as the Eyes of Texas Excellence Award (2000).

WGS 340 • Amer Popular Cul, 1682-Pres

47114 • Fall 2012
Meets T 500pm-800pm GEA 114
(also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R )
show description

Description

In 1682, the first American bestseller was published. Audiences in the American colonies and in England devoured Mary Rowlandson’s breathless account of her harrowing experiences as a captive of the Narragansett and Nipmunk Indians during King Philip’s War in The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.  Taking a long, historical view, this course explores the evolution of American popular culture and its relationship to national consolidation (and at times, disunion) over the last 330 years. Starting with oral, religious, print, and live performance traditions during the colonial, early national, and antebellum periods, this course will consider the cultural impact of new technologies such as steam power, the railroad, photography, recorded sound, celluloid, the electronic transmission of moving images (i.e. television), and the internet.  Throughout the semester, we will stress the centrality of race, gender, and class in shaping the production and content of popular culture, modes of popular representation, the composition of popular audiences, and types of reception.

 

Requirements

Creative Think Piece:                                     10%

5 Short Papers (1-2 pages each):                   20%

First Draft of Final Paper (10-15 pgs):             5%

In-Class Presentation of Final Project:             10%

Final Paper (10-15 pages):                             35%

Discussion:                                                    20%

 

Possible Texts

Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola, ed., Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives 

P.T. Barnum, The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself

Ken Emerson, Doo-dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk

Paula Marantz Cohen, Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth

Tiny Kline, Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Life of Tiny Kline

Susan Douglas, Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination

Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

Aniko Bodroghkozy, Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion

 

Upper-division standing required. Partially fulfills legislative requirement in American History.  Students may not enroll in more than two AMS 370 courses in one semester.

Flag(s): Writing, Cultural Diversity

WGS 345 • Animals & American Culture

47800 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BUR 228
(also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R )
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350R

This course partially fulfills the Legislative Requirement in American History and is also a writing component course.

 

Course Scope: A wandering pig played a central role in creating a bicameral legislature in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1644.  According to John Winthrop, the colony’s first governor, “There fell out a great business upon a very small occasion”:  a poor widow and a wealthy merchant went to the General Court regarding the disputed ownership of a stray sow.  Although popular sympathies rested with the widow, the Court ruled in favor of the merchant, thus prompting the Court’s assistants and deputies to divide formally into two distinct legislative houses in order to make the colony’s government more representative. This is but one example of the central—if hitherto unrecognized—role that animals have played in shaping the course of American history. This interdisciplinary upper-division undergraduate seminar explores the place of animals in the social, cultural, economic, and political life of the United States. Topics of discussion include animals in entertainment; hunting; vegetarianism; changing cultural attitudes about nature; wandering animals and property rights;  animals and evolutionary theory; the rise of the animal welfare and animal rights movements;  laboring animals and the nation’s move to a motorized economy; animals and war; the growth of pet keeping as a cultural practice and big business; factory farms; the rise of veterinary science; zoos; and more.

Course requirements:  Mandatory class attendance and completion of all reading and writing assignments. Each student will serve as a discussion leader for one class; each student will also write weekly response papers and/or study questions; each student will prepare a class presentation based upon h/her research work, and will submit a final research paper of ten-fifteen pages in length on a topic relating to the course material of his or her choosing.

TENTATIVE Reading List (will be modified):

Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

James Turner, Reckoning with the Beast

Jennifer Price, Flight Maps

Steve Baker, The Postmodern Animal

Susan Jones, Valuing Animals: Veterinarians and Their Patients in Modern America

Ingrid Newkirk, Free the Animals: The Story of the Animal Liberation Front

Laura Hillenbrandt, Seabiscuit: An American Legend

Gregg Mitman, Reel Nature: America’s Romance with Wildlife on Film

Elizabeth Hanson, Animal Attractions: Nature on Display in American Zoos

 

 

 

 

 

WGS 340 • Amer Pop Culture, 1682-Present

47080 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm BUR 228
(also listed as AMS 370, HIS 350R )
show description

COURSE DESCRIPTION

AMS 370/HIS/WGS: “American Popular Culture: 1682-Present”
Fall 2010
Professor Janet M. Davis

This course fulfills a Writing Flag and the Cultural Diversity in the United States Flag.

In 1682, the first American bestseller was published. Audiences in the American colonies and in England devoured Mary Rowlandson’s breathless account of her harrowing experiences as a captive of the Narragansett and Nipmunk Indians during King Philip’s War in The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.  Taking a long, historical view, this course explores the evolution of American popular culture and its relationship to national consolidation (and at times, disunion) over the last 330 years. Starting with oral, religious, print, and live performance traditions during the colonial, early national, and antebellum periods, this course will consider the cultural impact of new technologies such as steam power, the railroad, photography, recorded sound, celluloid, the electronic transmission of moving images (i.e. television), and the internet.  Throughout the semester, we will stress the centrality of race, gender, and class in shaping the production and content of popular culture, modes of popular representation, the composition of popular audiences, and types of reception.


Tentative Reading List (Will Likely Change!):

Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola, ed., Women’s Indian Captivity Narratives
P.T. Barnum, The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself
Ken Emerson, Doo-dah! Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture
W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk
Paula Marantz Cohen, Silent Film and the Triumph of the American Myth
Tiny Kline, Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Life of Tiny Kline
Susan Douglas, Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination
Angela Davis, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday
Aniko Bodroghkozy, Groove Tube: Sixties Television and the Youth Rebellion

Publications

Books

Editor, Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Memoir of Tiny Kline, by Tiny Kline (University of Illinois Press, June 2008).

The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top (University of North Carolina Press, September  2002). 

Articles

“Bird Day: Promoting the Gospel of Kindness in the Philippines during the American Occupation,” in Mark Lawrence, Erika Bsumek, and David Kinkella , editors, The Nation-State and the Transnational Environment (currently under review at Oxford University Press)

“Thinking about Empire, Frontier and the Evolution of the English and American Circus,” in Between Margin and Center – The Circus as Modernity in a Nutshell, edited by Yoram Carmeli (Washington, D.C.: American University Press, forthcoming, Winter 2010)

“Propagating the Gospel of Animal Kindness: Sacred Cows, Christians, and American Animal Welfare Activism with Reference to India at the Turn of the Twentieth Century,” in Speaking Truth to Power: Religion, Caste, and the Subaltern Question in India, edited by Manu Bhagavan and Anne Feldhaus (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, June 2008): 47-61  

“Cultural Watersheds in Fin de Siécle America,” 8,000-word essay in A Companion to American Cultural History (Blackwell Companions to American History), edited by Karen Halttunen, (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishing, February 2008): 166-180

“Proletarian Daredevil,” review essay of Paul E. Johnson, Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper (New York: Hill and Wang, 2003), in Reviews in American History 32(2004): 176-183

“Instruct the Minds of All Classes: Celebrations of Empire at the American Circus, 1898-1910,” in Dreams of Paradise, Visions of Apocalypse, edited by Jaap Verheul. (Amsterdam: VU Press, November 2003): 58-68

“With the Greatest of Unease,” (New York) Newsday, February 24, 2002,  B7

“The Life of Tiny Kline and the Evolution of Twentieth-Century American Mass Culture,”  Bandwagon: Journal of the Circus Historical Society  45, no. 2 (May-June 2001): 4-8

“Spectacles of South Asia at the American Circus, 1890-1940,” Visual Anthropology, 6, no. 2 (1993): 121-138

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