This thesis provides an innovative insight into the history of domesticity, women and cats by focusing on these topics in the period from 1870 to 1920 in the cities of New York, Boston and Chicago. It reveals how cats were influenced by, and had an impact on domesticity in the United States. The research shows how cats had an impact on the notion of domesticity. Both cats and women were suppressed in their independence and considered as the inferior pet and sex in the eyes of mankind. But cats provided women with chances to transcend the strict notion of domesticity while employing domestic rhetoric. The creatures known and often hated for their independence could assist women in gaining greater (financial) independence. By having women teaming up with cats they could embrace the public world without really challenging gender norms. Raising or caring for cats in multiple ways could be justified as an extension of their caring and moralizing roles as was expected of them in the home within the ideal of domesticity.
This thesis shows that the experience of interspecies interaction, in this case specifically regarding the Felis catus, combined with mostly gender can open up a whole new story of the past, regarding women’s history, domesticity and the long-ignored history of the cat. Consequently, this research equally contributes to the growing field of animal-human history by providing new insights into the practice of petkeeping regarding cats and how this specific animal was perceived, treated and (mis)used by humankind.
Lees hier het korte, Nederlandtalige essay dat Kirsten op basis van haar scriptie schreef!
Kirsten Weitering (1995) is in 2019 afgestudeerd aan de Universiteit Leiden waar zij de research-master History: Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence deed. Tijdens haar studie richtte zij zich voornamelijk op de sociaal-culturele geschiedenis van de Verenigde Staten in de negentiende en begin twintigste eeuw. In dier-mensgeschiedenis heeft zij haar passie voor geschiedenis en dieren kunnen combineren. Zo schreef zij over animal agency, de poema’s in Yellowstone National Park en president Theodore Roosevelt, de rol van de scholar-advocate binnen de subdiscipline en de representatie van vleesproductie en -consumptie in New York eind negentiende eeuw. Momenteel werkt zij als communicatiemedewerker bij de Partij voor de Dieren.