Genre: Arts, History & Current Affairs
Published: 27 October 2010
Publisher: Manchester University Press

Civilised by Beasts

by Juliana Adelman

Civilised by beaststells the story of nineteenth-century Dublin through human-animal relationships. It offers a unique perspective on ordinary life in the Irish metropolis during a century of significant change and reform. At its heart is the argument that the exploitation of animals formed a key component of urban change, from municipal reform to class formation to the expansion of public health and policing. It uses a social history approach but draws on a range of new and underused sources, including archives of the humane society and the zoological society, popular songs, visual ephemera and diaries. The book moves chronologically from 1830 to 1900, with each chapter focusing on specific animals and their relationship to urban changes. It will appeal to anyone fascinated by the history of cities, the history of Dublin or the history of Ireland.

'We get a fresh, different perspective on the distressed Victorian city where official attitudes to animal ownership reflected political, religious and class divisions'. - Irish Times
'Adelman's approach is imaginative, well-paced, and accessible. The reader is not confronted with a heavy tome, but an impressive body of research skilfully crafted into a compelling narrative.' - Dublin Inquirer
'In James Joyce's imagined Dublin, readers encounter pumas and alligators, camels and whales. But the animals that populated every street in the real Dublin of Joyce's childhood were less exotic - dogs and pigs, horses and cattle, and vast numbers of them. Their history has never been told until now and it is something of a revelation: Juliana Adelman's remarkable study of everyday animals in the development of the Irish capital provides an entirely fresh perspective on the troubled history of the Victorian city, riven as it was by political, religious and class divisions. Public and official attitudes towards animal ownership and animal welfare reflected these tensions, and different animals were credited with very distinctive cultural meaning. From the Dublin Zoo to the first dog shows, from the dingy piggeries to the new-style dairies, Adelman opens up a new debate on animal-human relations and thereby reconceptualises the old debate on the modernisation of Irish society.' - David Dickson, Professor of Modern History, Trinity College Dublin