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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Hunting Narratives of the Age of Empire: A Gender Reading of Their Iconography

Karen Wonders

Environment and History 11(2005): 269-291

The hunting-and-collecting mania of sportsmen from north-western Europe and the eastern United States is explored by focusing on the many hunting narratives that recount trips to the Canadian part of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Shore during the Age of Empire (1875-1914). These narratives, many of which were lavishly illustrated, have remained largely unexplored as a source for the social history of hunting. Here the hundreds of frequently dramatic visual representations, in particular the trophy displays, are systematically scrutinised and major iconographic motifs identified. The point is made that the iconographic idiom did not primarily convey a meaning that related to the hunters' participation in the work of empire, but one that celebrated the hunters' character traits and masculinity, often by means of a conflation of victor-and-vanquished.

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