Jones, K. (2018). ’The Lungs of the City’: Green Space, Public Health and Bodily Metaphor in the Landscape of Urban Park History. Environment and History [Online] 24:39-58. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3197/096734018X15137949591837.
New machinery, factory systems and a burgeoning population made the nineteenth century the era of the city. It also represented the coming of age of the city park. Across Europe and North America, elite spaces were opened to public access and new areas dedicated as ‘parks for the people.’ This paper offers a brief tour of green spaces across three iconic metropolitan sites – London, Paris and New York - to consider how the axioms of recreation, industrial modernity and public health operated in specific urban contexts. Of particular note is the fact that park planners embraced an holistic vision, often articulated via bodily metaphors, that incorporated both social and environmental aspects: thus behind apparently nostalgic visions for a pre-industrial bucolic greenery lay irrefutably modern approaches to urban planning that presaged twenty and twenty-first century holistic experiments in garden cities and ‘living homes.’ Also central to this study is the idea of the park as a liminal space and an eminently readable landscape: an evolving site of translation, negotiation and transformation that highlights the fertile ground of cross-disciplinary study and the benefits of a complex ecological history that involves close examination of place, action and imagery.
Jones, K. (2017). The Story of Comanche: Horsepower, Heroism and the Conquest of the American West. War and Society [Online] 36:156-181. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07292473.2017.1356588.
Marked by the Census Bureau’s closure of the frontier; the symbolic end of American Indian resistance at Wounded Knee and powerful articulations on the ‘winning of the West’ from Frederick Jackson Turner and Buffalo Bill Cody, the early 1890s was a critical moment in the history of the American West. It also saw the death of one of the region’s most famous cavalry horses, Comanche, who succumbed to colic in 1891 aged twenty-nine. Famously billed as ‘the only living thing to survive the Battle of the Little Bighorn’, this article uses Comanche as a locus around which to examine the history of warhorses in the military culture of the American West, and, more broadly, to point towards a growing scholarship on war and the environment that emphasises the usefulness of such themes as spatiality and inter-species exchange in embellishing our understanding of the experience, impact and cultural memory of war. Not only does Comanche’s lifespan (c.1862–1891) usefully coincide with the federal government’s final conquest of the West but his equine biography serves as valuable testament to the use of horses in the US military as both practical and symbolic agents of American expansionism.
Jones, K. (2017). Restor(y)ing the ‘Fierce Green Fire’: Animal Agency, Wolf Conservation and Environmental Memory in Yellowstone National Park. British Journal for the History of Science: Themes [Online] 2:151-168. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/bjt.2017.5.
This paper tracks human-animal entanglements through one particular species, Canis lupus, the wolf, with a view to exploring how this contested predator might be used to unpack normative assumptions about wildlife science, conservation practice and storytelling. The focus of attention here is on Yellowstone National Park and the century-long struggle to eradicate and then restore the wolf based on the shifting rubrics of science and environmental ethics. The ‘wild heart’ of North America and an epicentre of scientific and popular environmental mythology, Yellowstone presents a useful terrain (both material and contextual) in which to theorise the wolf as an environmental agent and explore its special provenance within an evolving narrative of ecological science. More specifically, the landmark story of restor(y)ation that played out in the national park serves to illuminate the complex web of temporality, narrative and memory that frames our configurations of animal agency. Wiped out in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and ruminated on in the interwar period, the wolf was returned to ancestral haunts in the 1990s (to great fanfare) as a charismatic poster animal for environmental consciousness and a vital ‘missing link’ in the psychological and biotic fabric of the landscape. Ornamented with what conservationist Aldo Leopold famously called a ‘fierce green fire,’ the wolf became a carrier animal for Yellowstone’s environmental memory, transporting with it the fates of other threatened species and the promise of an enlightened Ecological Age. Beneath this teleological tale of expanding biological knowledge and ethical awakening lies a convoluted (and interesting) story that reveals the sinuous connections between the material and the imagined animal as well as the challenges and the complexities of reading non-human traces.
Jones, K. (2016). The Rhinoceros and the Chatham Railway: Taxidermy and the Production of Animal Presence in the "Great Indoors.” History [Online] 101:710-735. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-229X.12325.
This article considers the practice of taxidermy and its relationship to the ‘golden age’ of big game hunting, the science of natural history and the dramaturgical codes of empire by looking at the collecting exploits of one man, Major Percy Powell-Cotton (1866–1940), and his attempts to preserve the spoils of the hunt in the ‘great indoors’. As various scholars have pointed out, taxidermy offers up a vivid and striking ‘afterlife’ of the animal with a unique (and some might say unsavoury) ability to elucidate our environmental and cultural relations with other species. As such, the reanimated animals of empire, posed on the walls of the country estate or arrested in museum cases, represent valuable historical artefacts ripe for unstitching. Drawing on the work of Garry Marvin, Sam Alberti and Merle Patchett, this article stalks Powell-Cotton's taxidermic project across various sites of capture, production and display (what I call necrogeographies) to illuminate the sinuous contours of imperial natural history and the stories of pursuit, production and performance lurking beneath the skin of the reanimated animal.
Jones, K. (2012). ‘Lady Wildcats and Wild Women’: Hunting, Gender and the Politics of Show(wo)manship in the Nineteenth century American West. Nineteenth-Century Contexts [Online] 34:37-49. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1080/08905495.2012.646547.
Drawing on codes of Victorian manhood, hunting narratives on the nineteenth century West typically broadcast a hegemonic vision of “hunter heroes”—survivalists, skilled in woodcraft, armed with sharp-shooting skills and a penchant for adventuring. Such men collectively advanced the expansionist ambitions of the American nation in assimilating landscapes and animals while maintaining a gentlemanly moral code. According to this teleology, the frontier was conquered by independent and vigorous frontiersmen, paragons of American manifest destiny and masculinity as exemplified by Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Significantly, as this article contends, alongside the masculine “hunter-hero” of the plains and mountains, women emerged as willing and competent participants in shooting adventures and also embraced the thrill of the chase. They also hunted for reasons of environmental subsistence, the securing of meat an essential part of the mechanics of household economics. Some saw hunting as a hearty recreational activity that assisted their sense of belonging in terms of selfhood, space and community. As I argue, here, the allure of the West and its associations with adventuring, strenuous activity and escapism held appeal for some women as well as men. Moreover, in the domain of performance, theatre and storytelling, ideas of the “lady adventurer” and the “armed western woman” gained sizeable popular currency.
Jones, K. (2011). Writing the Wolf: Canine Tales and North American Environmental-Literary Tradition. Environment and History [Online] 17:201-228. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096734011X12997574042964.
This article considers the construction of the wolf in North American environmental literature and history. Emphasis is placed on illustrating how writings about Canis lupus relate to shifting evaluations of wild nature and ethical responsibilities towards the non-human. It further reflects upon the limits to ‘knowing’ other species, as well as the struggle between amateurs and professionals in the quest to be seen as authorities in zoological expertise. An intensely symbolic animal, the wolf has always been a popular character in folklore, a creature representative of our fears and our idealisations of wilderness. Although the rehabilitation of the wolf in twentieth-century America is conventionally framed in terms of the rise of ecological science, of the wolf as a keystone predator and integral part of a healthy ecosystem, the naturalist tradition of storytelling remains another key element in this development. Under scrutiny here are those nature stories that have encouraged a positive attitude towards wolves in North America – from Ernest Thompson Seton in the late 1800s to Asta Bowen a century later. Such works suggest an important role for the storyteller as an educator in environmental values and contest the dominant paradigm of scientific observation as the ‘saviour’ of the wolf.
Jones, K. (2010). From Big Bad Wolf to Ecological Hero: Canis Lupus and the Culture(s) of Nature in the American-Canadian West. American Review of Canadian Studies 40:338-350.
Jones, K. (2010). ‘My Winchester spoke to her’: Crafting Montana as a hunter’s paradise, c.1870-1910. American Nineteenth Century History [Online] 11:183-203. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1080/14664658.2010.481871.
This article considers the construction of the Northern Rockies as a hunter’s paradise in the latter years of the nineteenth century. It explores the crafting of the region as a game utopia by a cadre of hunter?tourists, whose writings of what I term “fictionalized reality” celebrated the Rockies as an American Serengeti for sports and a realm of pioneer exoticism. Significantly, it argues that hunting became far more than an exercise in imperial tourism, instead representing a regenerative mechanism through which the sportsman emerged from the game trail, firstly as an exemplar of American masculinity, and secondly, as a fully?fledged westerner. Stories of nature red in tooth and the “hunter?hero” thus effectively obscured the political and economic realities of frontier assimilation to present the West as one vast playground for entertainment, adventuring and honorable violence. The article discusses the engagement between hunter and hunted, taking in themes of western tourism, codes of manhood, nature appreciation, gun?play, and the gaze, before concluding with an analysis of how the “storied past” of hunting literature, photography, and taxidermy broadcast a strident identity for the Northern Rockies that persists to this day.
Jones, K. (2010). "The Old West in Modern Splendor”: Frontier Folklore and the Selling of Las Vegas. European Journal of American Culture [Online] 29:93-110. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1386/ejac.29.2.93_1.
Las Vegas is customarily seen as a postmodern city of fantasy and simulation, a place where history and geography scarcely matter. In this article I argue instead that Las Vegas might be usefully described as a frontier city. When civic boosters sought to first sell their town as a tourist paradise it was the iconography of the American West that captivated public interest. In a place that invented theming, the frontier represented the original blueprint. Even when Las Vegas moved away from a western aesthetic, it continued to subscribe to a frontier mantra. Its culture of gambling resonated with ideas of individualism, risk, freedom and adventuring, while the constant reinvention of the city pointed towards a vertical frontier to match Frederick Jackson Turner's horizontal rubric.
Jones, K. (2003). ’Never Cry Wolf’ Science, sentiment and the literary rehabilitation of Canis lupus. Canadian Historical Review [Online] 84:65-93. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/CHR.84.1.65.
A shepherd Boy was watching his flock near the village and was bored. He thought it would be great fun to pretend that a Wolf was attacking the sheep, so he cried out Wolf! Wolf! and the villagers came running. He laughed and laughed when they discovered there was no Wolf. He played the trick again. And then again. Each time the villagers came, only to be fooled. Then one day a Wolf did come and the Boy cried out Wolf! Wolf! But no one answered his call. They thought he was playing the same games again.