In 2015 the fashion magazine Vogue placed US Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, on its cover. Captured by well-known fashion photographer Seven Klein, Pharoah’s stylized portrait saw him classically situated before a white background, his side to the viewer, and with a garland of roses draped over his withers. The public outcry was immediate. Instantly equating the horse’s body with those of the human models in the magazine’s pages, many readers considered his lean, Thoroughbred shape ‘sickly’. One reader argued the editors had ‘altered the photo to reduce him to nothing more than some of the anorexic models featured in your magazine’. Similarly, another reader questioned whether ‘horses have to be as skinny as models nowadays? Awfull!! [sic].’ However, other readers quickly came to Pharoah’s defense, and using the language of body positivity often called upon to resist the fashion industry’s ideal body shape for women, quickly called for his critics to ‘#stopbodyshaminghorses’.
The Pharoah controversy immediately equated the (male) horse with the feminine – a Thoroughbred of the racing world with the thoroughbreds of the modeling industry – in a gendered mixing of animal and human bodies. Such mixing is not unique, and is a ubiquitous component of human-horse relationships over time. However, the relationship between human and non-human gendered bodies, their performativity, and identities has only recently come under scholarly investigation. As a result, this book collection seeks to continue the discussions on horse-human gender and gender performance begun by such works as Monica Mattfeld, Becoming Centaur, Donna Landry, Noble Brutes, and Karen Raber and Treva Tucker, Culture of the Horse. It will explore horse-human interactions (and intra-actions) from a theoretically knowledgeable viewpoint, while offering new perspectives on how human and animal gender was created, experienced and performed.
Possible paper subjects can include, but are not limited to, the following:
- definitions of ‘performance’
- femininity and feminization of horse/human
- masculinity of horse/human
- material feminist perspectives
- female equestrians over time
- gender and identity
- gender and politics
- case studies of horse-human relationships
We invite papers that explore the role and ‘intra-action’ of horses in gender from all time periods, from a wide array of geographies and contexts, and from multiple disciplinary perspectives within the humanities. Papers that explore horses and gender in non-Anglocentric equestrian cultures are especially welcome. Please send abstracts of not more than 300 words along with a brief biography, also of not more than 300 words, to Kristen Guest (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Monica Mattfeld (email@example.com) by March 30 2019.