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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Janet M. Davis

Associate Professor Ph.D., History, University of Wisconsin (Madison)

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).

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

T C 302 • American Animals: A Cul Hist

43710 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CRD 007B
show description

Description:

This course explores the central—if hitherto unrecognized—role that animals have played in shaping American history. This course is interdisciplinary, which means that we will use multiple methodological lenses throughout the semester. Topics of discussion include Native American animal cosmologies; wandering animals and concepts of property; animals in entertainment; hunting; vegetarianism; changing cultural attitudes about nature; 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 billion-dollar business today; factory farms; the rise of veterinary science; zoos; and more. We will explore Waller Creek, the Turtle Pond, and the Harry Ransom Center, among other rich campus environments and world-class library facilities at UT-Austin to enhance our examination of animals and the cultural life and history of the United States.

 

Texts/Readings:

Hal Herzog, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

Virginia DeJohn Anderson, “King Philip’s Herds: Indians, Colonists, and the Problem of Livestock in Early New                England,” The William and Mary Quarterly, v. 51, n. 4 (October 1994): 601-624; pdf document

Thomas Nickerson, Owen Chase, and Others, edited by Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick, The Loss of the Ship Essex,                 Sunk by a Whale: First Person Accounts

Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America

Robert Sullivan, Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness

Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

 

Assignments:

Mandatory class attendance, attendance of University Lecture Series, completion of all reading and writing assignments, and in-class presentations. Each student will write 5 sets of study questions that address the reading and classroom material—students will be expected to integrate material from the University Lecture Series into select study questions assignments; On 2 separate class dates during the semester, students will give a 10-minute historical presentation on any American animal of h/her choosing. (Students must choose a different animal for each presentation.) Students will write a 5-page analytic essay on a topic of one’s choosing related to the history of American animals. Students will receive completion credit for the first draft of this essay, and then will receive a letter grade for the revised version. Lastly, students will write a 7-10 page take-home essay examination that will analyze the readings and select lecture/field trip/University Lecture material into a synthetic interpretation of animals and American history.

Grade Breakdown:

Discussion: 20%

Study Questions (5 total): 10%

Class Presentations: 15%

Animal Issue Paper (Draft Version—Credit Grade): 10%

Animal Issue Paper (Revised Version—Letter Grade): 15%

Final Take-Home Essay: 30%

 

About the Professor:

Janet Davis is finishing a social and cultural history of the American animal welfare movement from 1866-1930, paying special attention to ideologies of American exceptionalism, cultural pluralism, and Protestant reform in shaping the movement in the United States and abroad. She has taught courses on multiple subjects at UT, including American studies, history, and popular culture.

T C 302 • American Animals: A Cul Hist

42905 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CRD 007A
show description

Description:

This course explores the central—if hitherto unrecognized—role that animals have played in shaping American history. This course is interdisciplinary, which means that we will use multiple methodological lenses throughout the semester. Topics of discussion include Native American animal cosmologies; wandering animals and concepts of property; animals in entertainment; hunting; vegetarianism; changing cultural attitudes about nature; 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 billion-dollar business today; factory farms; the rise of veterinary science; zoos; and more. We will explore Waller Creek, the Turtle Pond, and the Harry Ransom Center, among other rich campus environments and world-class library facilities at UT-Austin to enhance our examination of animals and the cultural life and history of the United States.

 

Requirements: 

Mandatory class attendance, attendance of University Lecture Series, completion of all reading and writing assignments, and in-class presentations. Each student will write 5 sets of study questions that address the reading and classroom material—students will be expected to integrate material from the University Lecture Series into select study questions assignments; On 2 separate class dates during the semester, students will give a 10-minute historical presentation on any American animal of h/her choosing. (Students must choose a different animal for each presentation.) Students will write a 5-page analytic essay on a topic of one’s choosing related to the history of American animals. Students will receive completion credit for the first draft of this essay, and then will receive a letter grade for the revised version. Lastly, students will write a 7-10 page take-home essay examination that will analyze the readings and select lecture/field trip/University Lecture material into a synthetic interpretation of animals and American history.

Grade Breakdown:

Discussion: 20%

Study Questions (5 total): 10%

Class Presentations: 15%

Animal Issue Paper (Draft Version—Credit Grade): 10%

Animal Issue Paper (Revised Version—Letter Grade): 15%

Final Take-Home Essay: 30%

 

Reading Assignments:

Hal Herzog, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals

Virginia DeJohn Anderson, “King Philip’s Herds: Indians, Colonists, and the Problem of Livestock in Early New England,” The William and Mary Quarterly, v. 51, n. 4 (October 1994): 601-624; pdf document

Thomas Nickerson, Owen Chase, and Others, edited by Nathaniel and Thomas Philbrick, The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale: First Person Accounts

Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America

Robert Sullivan, Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants

Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness

Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

 

About the Professor:

Janet Davis is currently finishing a social and cultural history of the American animal welfare movement from 1866-1930, paying special attention to ideologies of American exceptionalism, cultural pluralism, and Protestant reform in shaping the movement in the United States and abroad. She has taught courses on multiple subjects at UT, including American studies, history, popular culture, animal studies, both halves of the cultural history survey, twentieth-century social movements, and women’s and gender studies.

T C 302 • American Animals: A Cul Hist

43395 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CRD 007B
show description

Description:

This course explores the central—if hitherto unrecognized—role that animals have played in shaping American history. This course is interdisciplinary, which means that we will use multiple methodological lenses throughout the semester. Topics of discussion include Native American animal cosmologies; wandering animals and concepts of property; animals in entertainment; hunting; vegetarianism; changing cultural attitudes about nature; 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 billion-dollar business today; factory farms; the rise of veterinary science; zoos; and more. We will use the rich environmental resources and world-class library facilities at UT-Austin to enhance our examination of animals and the cultural life and history of the United States.

 

Requirements: 

Mandatory class attendance, attendance of University Lecture Series, and completion of all reading and writing assignments. Each student will serve as a discussion leader for one class; each student will write 6 weekly review essays and/or study questions (at least half of these papers will be essays) that will be shared with the whole class in advance of each meeting—students will be expected to integrate material from the University Lecture Series into select review essay/study questions assignments; each student will prepare a ten-minute 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. Prior to final submission, students will critique each other’s drafts and will have an opportunity to revise their papers based upon suggestions from peers and from me.

Grade Breakdown:

Discussion: 20%

Short Papers (6 total; at least 3 of which are essays and no more than 3 are study questions): 20%

Class Presentation: 15%

Research Paper (Draft and Final Version): 45%

 

Readings:

Subject to change

Virginia Anderson, Creatures of Empire

Marshall Saunders, Beautiful Joe

Katherine Grier, Pets in America

James Turner, Reckoning with the Beast

Jennifer Price, Flight Maps

Nigel Rothfels, ed., Representing Animals

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

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

 

About the Professor:

Janet Davis is currently working on a social and cultural history of the animal welfare movement from 1866-1930, paying special attention to the place of evangelical Christians and radical humanists in the United States and abroad. She has taught courses on multiple subjects at UT, including American Studies, popular culture, nineteenth and twentieth-century cultural and social history, Women's Studies, and modern South Asia.

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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