Wild Things


ISBN 978-1-874267-75-1 (HB)
ISBN 978-1-874267-93-5 (PB)

Nature and the Social Imagination

Edited by William Beinart, Karen Middleton and Simon Pooley


Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination assembles eleven substantive and original essays on the cultural and social dimensions of environmental history. They address a global cornucopia of social and ecological systems, from Africa to Europe, North America and the Caribbean, and their temporal range extends from the 1830s into the twenty-first century.

The imaginative (and actual) construction of landscapes and the appropriation of Nature – through image-fashioning, curating museum and zoo collections, making ‘friends’, ‘enemies’ and mythical symbols from animals – are recurring subjects. Among the volume’s thought-provoking essays are a group enmeshing nature and the visual culture of photography and film. Canonical environmental history themes, from colonialism to conservation, are re-inflected by discourses including gender studies, Romanticism, politics and technology.

The loci of the studies included here represent both the microcosmic – underwater laboratory, zoo, film studio; and broad canvases – the German forest, the Rocky Mountains, the islands of Haiti and Madagascar. Their casts too are richly varied – from Britain’s otters and Africa’s Nile crocodiles to Hollywood film-makers and South African cattle. The volume represents an excitingly diverse collection of studies of how humans, in imagination and deed, act on and are acted on by ‘wild things’. Read more.

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Hardback, Paperback