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Grant number like: FA-50250-04

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Nigel T. Rothfels
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI 53211-3153)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2004 – 8/31/2006

Elephants in the Western Imagination: A Modern History

This project examines the history of western ideas about elephants since the eighteenth century. When people stand in front of an elephant exhibit at a zoo today, when they watch a nature film or read a popular book about elephant life in Africa or Asia, when they see performing elephants at a circus, when they watch Dumbo or read about Babar, when they feel guilty about ivory-handled heirloom cultery sets, they are participating in the changing ways we have come to think about elephants. For ecological, philosophical, historical, and even economic reasons, elephants "matter" like few other animals do. How elephants have been thought about, and why they have been imagined the way they have, are the central historical questions of this study of a broad range of archival and published materials from the last 250 years about elephants. The project will result in a book manuscript.