Dogs are as ubiquitous in American culture as white picket fences and apple pie, embracing all the meanings of wholesome domestic life family, fidelity, comfort, protection, nurturance, and love as well as symbolizing some of the less palatable connotations of home and family, including domination, subservience, and violence. In Picturing Dogs, Seeing Ourselves, Ann-Janine Morey presents a collection of antique photographs of dogs and their owners in order to investigate the meanings associated with the canine body. Included are reproductions of 115 postcards, cabinet cards, and cartes de visite that feature dogs in family and childhood snapshots, images of hunting, posed studio portraits, and many other settings between 1860 and 1950. These photographs offer poignant testimony to the American romance with dogs and show how the dog has become part of cultural expressions of race, class, and gender.
Animal studies scholars have long argued that our representation of animals in print and in the visual arts has a profound connection to our lived cultural identity. Other books have documented the depiction of dogs in art and photography, but few have reached beyond the subject s obvious appeal. Picturing Dogs, Seeing Ourselves draws on animal, visual, and literary studies to present an original and richly contextualized visual history of the relationship between Americans and their dogs. Though the personal stories behind these everyday photographs may be lost to us, their cultural significance is not.
Preface: Some Words About the Pictures
Introduction: Romancing the Dog
1 The Visual Rhetoric of Everyday People
2 The Dog on the Table: From The Great Gatsby to the Great White Middle Class
3 The Gaze Outside the Frame
4 Family Portraits
5 Hunting Pictures and Dog Stories
6 Women Cross the Line
Conclusion: The Dog in the Picture
Ann-Janine Morey is a professor of English at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is the author of Apples and Ashes: Culture, Metaphor and Morality in the American Dream and Religion and Sexuality in American Literature
"Ann-Janine Morey's book is a treasure trove of photographs created by ordinary people. Together these document what Morey calls the 'romance' of dogs and humans – a story of love, domination, primitivism, and 'Edenic longings' – embodied in the presence of the dog among humans."
– Teresa Mangum, University of Iowa