Daniel Vandersommers

Ph.D., Department of History, The Ohio State University

NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

2017 to 2018
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

Humanism Encaged: The American Zoo, 1887-1917

My project tells the story of how a zoo changed the world. Between 1870 and 1910, zoological parks appeared suddenly at the heart of every major American city and had tens of millions of visitors. Zoological parks at the turn of the century prepared the way for later environmental, conservation, and animal rights movements. They prepared the way for later cultural entanglements with the life sciences. Zoological parks functioned as theaters that first demonstrated simple lessons about animals that would capture the attention of the ever-expanding and ever-specializing body of scholars devoted to the study of life throughout the twentieth century. And zoological parks functioned as the first public tutorials in post-humanist thinking. Researched at the Smithsonian Institution Archives and ten other institutions, my projects presents a cultural history of popular zoology by showing how a zoo transformed the way that Americans thought about humans, animals, environments, and science.


Read more about Dan's work here.