Paula Tarankow


Paula Tarankow is a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. History at Indiana University, Bloomington. She writes:

I received a grant that enabled me to visit archives in Louisiana and Washington, D.C., in the summer months of 2016 for my dissertation project in U.S. History: “Searching for Humanity: The Problem of Animal Cruelty in the Post-Civil War South.” My research recovers the unexamined cultural roots and impact of institutional and grassroots animal advocacy campaigns in the states of the former Confederacy. I investigate the complex reform visions held by animal welfare advocates between 1870 and 1920 among Civil War veterans as well as former abolitionists, slaveholders, and slaves. My dissertation asks how this diverse group of individuals defined the problem of animal cruelty and endeavored to make the humane treatment of animals a cornerstone of societal understandings of a shared humanity. Using archival sources from my summer trip, I discussed a portion of my research in April 2017 at the annual meeting of the California American Studies Association. Here, in a panel on “Interspecies Violence,” I presented a conference paper titled “Cases of Inhumanity: Surveilling and Prosecuting Animal Cruelty in the Nation’s Capital.” In July 2017, I participated in the week-long inaugural Human-Animal Studies Summer Institute program, which is offered by the Animals & Society Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the theme “Animals across the Disciplines.” In January 2018, I will present a paper on grassroots animal welfare titled, “The Horse and the Preacher: Romances of Reunion in Animal Advocacy Tales from the New South,” at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Here, I will join two other historians on our panel, which is titled “Animating Human Rights: Animal Histories from Abolition to the Long Civil Rights Movement.” I plan to graduate with my Ph.D. in U.S. History from Indiana University, Bloomington, in May 2019.