Karen Jones earned her doctorate from the University of Bristol, and worked as a teaching fellow at the University of Essex, before arriving at Kent in 2004. She is a nineteenth century specialist with particular interests in environmental and cultural history.
Her books include Wolf Mountains: The History of Wolves Along the Great Divide (2002) – a comparative study of the biology, mythology and culture surrounding wolves in national parks in the Rockies and The Invention of the Park (2005) – a survey of the park idea from the Garden of Eden to British landscape parks and beyond. Karen was awarded the James Bradley Fellowship at the Montana Historical Society (2004-5) for her research on hunting and conservation in late nineteenth-century Montana. She has earned fellowships at the Autry Museum, Los Angeles (2012) and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody (2013) for projects on horses and war in the nineteenth century and on taxidermy and the 'afterlife' of hunting animals. Co-author of a post-revisionist monograph on the American West (The American West: Competing Visions, 2009), she explored the popular appeal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, cowboy mythology, women on the frontier, and the conservation movement. Her article ‘From Big Bad Wolf to Ecological Hero: Canis Lupus and the Culture(s) of Nature in the American-Canadian West’ won the Rufus Z. Smith for best article in the American Review of Canadian Studies (2009-11). More recently, she has published on national parks and transnational nature conservation (Civilizing Nature (2012)), co-edited a collection on guns and empire in the nineteenth century (A Cultural History of Firearms in the Age of Empire (2013)), and written on hunting and photography (Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination (2013)). Karen’s latest monograph - Epiphany in the Wilderness: Hunting, Nature and Performance in the American West (University Press of Colorado, 2015) - looks at the environmental and cultural imprint of hunting on the western frontier, with particular focus on animal encounter, ritual and storytelling, and gender tropes and transgressions.
Her current research interests include:
- Hunting, taxidermy and the interior ecologies of animal display (with Quex Park)
- ‘Lungs for the City’: Parks, wellbeing and the urban metabolic landscape
- ‘Heroine of the Plains’: Calamity Jane and the Culture of Frontier Celebrity (for Yale University Press)
Karen is an enthusiastic supporter of environmental history, landscape history and animal studies. She is the editor of the journal Environment and History. She is interested in supervising postgraduates who want to work on any aspect of environmental history. Her taught modules include Wolves, Walruses and the Wild: Animals in Anglo-American Culture, How the West Was Won (or Lost): The American West in the Nineteenth Century and From Buffalo Bill to Bison Burgers: A History of the Twentieth Century American West.
Always eager to find a reason to talk about animals, green spaces and landscape stories, Karen has worked with various public and media organizations, from Parks Canada to the BBC. She appeared on Rich Hall's documentary ‘How the West Was Lost’ (2008).
After work she can be found in the garden or walking the dog.
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