Test Cover Image of:  Equestrian Cultures

Equestrian Cultures

Horses, Human Society, and the Discourse of Modernity

Series: Animal Lives
Edited by: Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld
As much as dogs, cats, or any domestic animal, horses exemplify the vast range of human-animal interactions. Horses have long been deployed to help with a variety of human activities—from racing and riding to police work, farming, warfare, and therapy—and have figured heavily in the history of natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Most accounts of the equine-human relationship, however, fail to address the last few centuries of Western history, focusing instead on pre-1700 interactions. Equestrian Cultures fills in the gap, telling the story of how prominently horses continue to figure in our lives, up to the present day.

Kristen Guest and Monica Mattfeld place the modern period front and center in this collection, illuminating the largely untold story of how the horse has responded to the accelerated pace of modernity. The book’s contributors explore equine cultures across the globe, drawing from numerous interdisciplinary sources to show how horses have unexpectedly influenced such distinctively modern fields as photography, anthropology, and feminist theory. Equestrian Cultures boldly steps forward to redefine our view of the most recent developments in our long history of equine partnership and sets the course for future examinations of this still-strong bond.

Author Information

Kristen Guest is professor in the Department of English at the University of Northern British Columbia. Monica Mattfeld is associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Northern British Columbia.


“The varied and richly nuanced essays in Equestrian Cultures explore the horse’s instrumental role in constructing modernity and navigating its social, political, economic and symbolic dimensions. From bits to bloodlines, from the fine arts to commerce and industry, as dead flesh or living cyborg: the horse’s presence in, and influence on, discourses and technologies of modernity is given innovative and theoretically grounded analysis that gives us an important new set of insights into the horse’s multiple and endlessly malleable nature and into the vicissitudes of its fortunes over the last few centuries. Equestrian Cultures will deepen and complicate current scholarship by restoring the animal presence at the heart of human historical change.”
— Karen Raber, University of Mississippi

Equestrian Cultures is a highly original work that will make significant contributions to a number of disciplines: art history, economic history, literary studies, animal studies, and environmental studies. The range of topics, material, and methodologies engaged by the essays is extensive, stimulating, and characterized by extremely strong scholarship. There is much to be learned and much to enjoy in this book.”
— Pia F. Cuneo, University of Arizona

Audience: Professional and scholarly;