“Gospel of Kindness” Talk
The Gospel of Kindness: Animal Welfare and the Making of Modern America
with Janet M. Davis
This talk will explore the broad cultural and social influence of the American animal welfare movement at home and overseas from the Second Great Awakening to the Second World War. Dedicated primarily to laboring animals at its inception in an animal-powered world, the humane movement eventually included virtually all areas of human and animal interaction. Embracing animals as brethren through biblical concepts of stewardship, a diverse coalition of temperance groups, teachers, Protestant missionaries, religious leaders, civil rights activists, policy makers, and anti-imperialists forged an expansive transnational “gospel of kindness,” which defined animal mercy as a signature American value.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JANET M. DAVIS received her BA in History from Carleton College with magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1986. After working in the airline industry for several years, she received her PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin in 1998 and has taught American Studies, History, and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin since 1998. Davis is the author of The Gospel of Kindness: Animal Welfare and the Making of Modern America (2016); The Circus Age: Culture and Society under the American Big Top (2002); and the editor of Circus Queen and Tinker Bell: The Life of Tiny Kline (2008), by Tiny Kline. The Circus Age won a Robert Hamilton Award, an Outstanding Title Award from Choice, and was a finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association. Her article, “Cockfight Nationalism: Blood Sport and the Moral Politics of American Empire and Nation Building,” won the 2014 Constance Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association for the best article published in American Quarterly. Davis works regularly as a consultant for museum exhibitions, documentary films, and radio projects. Her opinion pieces have been published in the New York Times, Newsday, the Austin American-Statesman, Truth-Out, and CNN. She has received fellowships from FLAS VI in Hindi, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association of University Women, and The University of Texas at Austin. Davis teaches the U.S. cultural history survey, as well as specialized courses on U.S. social movements, environmental history, popular culture, and animal studies. She is the recipient of the multiple teaching awards at the University of Texas, including The University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2016. She is currently developing a service learning initiative as a Provost Teaching Fellow.
Date: April 14, 2017