Faculty Research: Dr. Janet Davis presents at national conference of the Livestock Conservancy

Detail Thaddeus Wilkerson Postcard Sheep Fold Central Park NY

Sheep grazing in Central Park.
Thaddeus Wilkerson photo postcard #53, ‘Sheep Fold, Central Park, New York’

On Saturday, November 15, Dr. Janet Davis presented an invited lecture at the national conference of the Livestock Conservancy right here in Austin. Her talk, entitled “The Cattle Drives of Wall Street and Other Stories of Urban Livestock: 1866 – 1940,” considered how animals that once roamed through city streets disappeared prior to World War II.

See her abstract here:

In the middle of the nineteenth century, livestock were everywhere in the urban United States. In the nation’s largest city, cattle drives plodded through Wall Street and sheep manicured the grass at Central Park. Livestock muscle powered city transportation and commerce. Armies of hogs rooted through mounds of garbage, while chickens scratched for bits of food. In an age before refrigeration, American stockyards, dairies, slaughterhouses, and butcher shops spawned fetid olfactory clouds.  Yet on the eve of World War II, the nation’s urban landscape had changed dramatically with the virtual disappearance of livestock. This paper explores the historical processes that led to this disappearance, including motorized transportation and cooling technologies, sanitation reform, and the rise of the animal welfare movement. This paper will also examine the cultural, social, and economic consequences of this transformation, as well as the nascent resurgence of urban livestock today.

For more information about the conference, see the Livestock Conservancy website.

Submit to The End of Austin – Deadline May 15

For those of you who have some thoughts or feelings about Austin’s changing identity over the past several years, we encourage you to consider submitting a piece to The End of Austin, one of our department’s flagship digital humanities projects. See the call-for-submissions below.

We are pleased to invite your submissions to the fifth issue of The End of Austin, a digital humanities project housed in the Department of American Studies that explores Austin’s changing urban identity.

Our goal is to bring together different kinds of voices—academic, artistic, activist—to start an interdisciplinary conversation about life in the fastest growing city in the US. We are interested in original writing, photos, video, art, music—anything that illuminates how things are changing, ending, expiring, or collapsing in the midst of our growth-obsessed sunbelt burg. For additional information about the project, please see our press page.

We encourage submissions from all disciplines on the following topics (and welcome other proposals):

  • Traffic and transportation infrastructures (bus, urban rail, etc.)
  • Cedar fever and air quality
  • Droughts, floods, freezes, and weather issues
  • The proliferation of festivals of various kinds (e.g. SXSW, ACL, FunFunFunFest, PsychFest, Ice Cream Fest, Eeyore’s Birthday)
  • The Formula One track
  • The turnover of businesses and concerns about chains versus local businesses
  • Race, class, and gentrification
  • Cultures of leisure
  • Food culture and food trucks
  • The “Live Music Capital of the World” moniker
  • Weird anxiety and anxiety over weirdness
  • The rapidly changing cityscape, skyline, and exurban sprawl
  • The [administrative, pedagogical] future of the University of Texas
  • Representations of Austin in film, television, and other forms of popular expression
  • Drunk driving

Deadline for completed submissions is May 15, 2014. Please email inquiries and submissions to endofaustin@gmail.com.

Announcement: Issue 4 of The End of Austin Now Available

Photo by Randy Lewis

Photo by Randy Lewis

Welcome back to school, everyone! We’re thrilled that Spring 2014 has kicked off and we’re excited to start sharing news and views from the department once again.

What better way to begin the semester than with an announcement about a new issue of The End of Austin, one of the department’s flagship digital humanities projects? Issue number 4 contains photography, nonfiction essays, memoir, prose poetry, video, and more about topics from hitchhiking around town to this summer’s abortion rights protests at the Texas State Capitol.

This issue also features the work of two of our department members: Dr. Jeff Meikle and graduate student Susan Quesal

Go forth and take a look – and leave a comment if any of the articles pique your interest.