The November 2015 issue of The American Historian features three compelling essays on “History and Animals.” Susan Nance offers a detailed overview on the origins of animal history as a distinct subfield and shows how the field has grown to encompass a multitude of interdisciplinary strategies and topics. At its most basic, Nance argues that “our thinking about animals has defined what it means to be human.” Janet M. Davis focuses on the history of animal protection in the United States and describes how animal protection has changed from early days of moral uplift to the view of some contemporary animal protectionists that sees animals on a “legal continuum with vulnerable human beings.” Finally, Etienne S. Benson, borrowing a term from biology, posits that cities act as “urban upwellings” where, “driven by the winds of human commerce,” humans and animals interact in myriad ways. As the urban landscape (and the waste left behind) has changed since the nineteenth century, so too have human-animal interactions.
The issue also includes a piece on the historical meaning of the Confederate flag by Jason Morgan Ward and a timely essay by Zachary M. Schrag on the Federal Government potentially deregulating oral history. Finally, Chris D. Cantwell offers helpful tips to historians attempting to manage their digital workflow and Thomas D. Fallace, Johann N. Neem, and Fritz Fischer examine the Common Core and how it affects history teaching in K-12 education. We also have an essay from OAH president Jon Butler on past and present conceptions of American exceptionalism, as well as interesting historical facts and tidbits in our Ante and Post sections.
Finally, be sure to check out our Web site, tah.oah.org, where we have two teaching pieces that will be posted in the next couple weeks. In one, Gregory D. Smithers discusses the difficulty of teaching Native American history to college students who often come to class unprepared and uninformed about the nuances and intricacies of indigenous history. Kelly Schrum and her colleagues show how using historical images can uncover “hidden histories” and allow students to explore historical narratives in new and exciting ways.
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