Equestrian CulturesHorses, Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity

Equestrian CulturesHorses, Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity

Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780226583044

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


The horse occupies a distinctive role in studies of animal-human relations. Horses are often identified with human capabilities, such as intelligence and emotional sensitivity, as well as abstract qualities such as nobility and honor, and the horse offers a unique framework for how to think about the formation of human identity—they have long shaped human culture in real and symbolic terms. Equine Cultures explores the role and representation of horses in human culture from 1700 to the present. Most scholarship on horses as they relate to humans deals with the pre-1700 era; Equestrian Cultures places the modern period (post-1700) at the center, showing how the horse has remained central to the accelerating culture of modernity. The contributors investigate specific equine cultures—from the performance of social power and the definition of heritage in Europe, Australia, and the Americas, to explorations of the ways horses figure in distinctively modern genres of the self, such as autobiography, biography, and photographic portraiture. The chapters range across disciplines, including history, literature, art history, anthropology, museology, veterinary medicine, philosophy, and feminist theory. The chapters also range across a multitude of topics, from race horse “biographies” to herding communities to images of horses in art and photography to workhorses to horse characters in narrative, to breeding and horse trade, and much else. The collection bids fair to redefine the field of horse/animal studies and to set the agenda for future studies of human-equine relations.

Table of Contents

Front Matter

Introduction Equestrian Cultures

Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld

Part One Science and Technology

One Machines of Feeling

Monica Mattfeld

Part Two Commodification and Consumption

Five Stabilizing Politics

Magdalena Bayreuther and Christine Rüppell

Six Trading Horses in the Eighteenth Century

Charlotte Carrington-Farmer

Part Three National Identity

End Matter