Wolves and Humans in History


Paul G. E. Clemens <clemens@rci.rutgers.edu> 

Karen Routledge <kirimsa@gmail.com>

Office 217B


Course Web Page:   http://fas-history.rutgers.edu/routledge/wolves/Home.html


The goal of this course is for you to research and write a paper of 15-30 pages on the history of some aspect of the relationship between wolves and humans in the history of North America (Mexico, the United States, and Canada).  We will begin the course with the discussion of common readings that give you a background in environmental and cultural history as well as a better appreciation of wolves and humans in the United States today.  We will conclude the course with you presenting your research to the class, and critiquing each others' papers.  You will have time, without formal class meetings, in the middle of the semester to devote solely to research and writing. 


Instructors: Paul Clemens is an American colonial historian, who also teaches and works on legal and constitutional history.  His interest in wolves grew from studying the legal battles over the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone in the 1990s.  Karen Routledge is an environmental and cultural historian who is currently studying survival stories of peoples who inhabited and traveled to the Artic regions of North America.


We will be interested in many aspects of the relationships of humans and wolves in history: how wolves have been depicted in popular culture (novels, folklore, movies, music); how wolves became a subject for scientific study and how the methods and goals of that study have changed; the development of zoos and natural history museums and the place of wolves in such institutions; the history of efforts to exterminate wolves and the current efforts to protect wolves; the history of groups dedicated to protecting wolves (most notably, Defenders of Wildlife); the legal battles over wolf "reintroduction" at Yellowstone.  At the end of this syllabus you will find an annotated list of possible topics -- before the second meeting of the semester, you will have selected a topic and begun your research.


In other words, work on your paper begins immediately.  You are expected to work on the paper over the entire semester.  You will be submitting outlines and drafts as you go, have a finished paper drafted well before the end of the semester, and have a rewritten final paper to submit by the last class meeting.  If you are used to writing papers the night before they are due, you'll have to change your habits -- or take a different course.  The goal here is to give you a chance to investigate a topic on your own, write that research up around a question you have defined for yourself, improve the organization and argument of the paper with rewriting, and present your ideas to others who will question you about your work.  


Attendance:  you are expected to attend every class.  More than one unexcused absence will lower your grade one letter grade. Three unexcused absences from class will result in failure.  Excused absences (for medical, legal, family emergencies, or, intercollegiate athletic competition with written documentation; or religious observances) do not count in this total.  Multiple late arrivals will count as an absence. 


Field Trips: We hope to have two field trips during the semester.  One will be to the American Museum of Natural History in New York.  The probable date will be Sunday, February 10th; we would go by train from whatever point is most convenient for you, and meet at the Museum.  This trip is required, but students have the option of going on their own if they can't make the date for a group trip.  The other trip will be to the Lakota Wolf Reserve in northwest New Jersey (near the Delaware Water Gap).  It is a drive of about 60 miles from Rutgers, and we will need three-four drivers to get us all there.  The probable date is Sunday, March 9th.  This trip is recommended by not required.  Students may have incidental expenses for these trips, but the transportation and entry costs will be covered by the department.  Students will be expected to write response papers on both trips, and will be encouraged to record their impressions in journal form during the trip.


Academic Integrity: the History Department undergraduate web page has a link to the "Academic Policies" that apply to undergraduate education and the classroom.  One such statement concerns plagiarism and it is particularly important that you review that page, and understand the requirements for correctly attributing the sources you use.  The Bedford Pocket Style Manual (listed below) will explain the rules of citation, as well as help your with grammar and paper writing.


Books required: Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson: Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone (Guilford, Conn., Lyons Press, 2005).


Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual (4th ed., New York & Boston, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004).  (The new 5th edition, c. 2008, if available, can be substituted.)

1. January 23rd

            Reading: Peter Singer, All Animals Are Equal: Animal Rights and Human Obligations," from Tom Regan and Peter Singer, eds., Animal Rights and Human Obligations (1976, 1989), 73-86. 

Link: http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/singer02.htm


2. January 30th - introduction to on-line resources. Paper Topics Selected.

            Reading: Smith, Decade of the Wolf, Chapters 1-6 (pages 1-115).


3. February 6th

            Reading, Bernd Brunner, Bears: A Brief History (New Haven, Conn., Yale University Press, 2007), Introduction, Chapters 1, 10, 12, 14, Epilogue and Kelly Enright, Rhinoceros (London, Reaktion, 2008), Preface and Chapter 4 - material will be distributed in class.


4. February 13th - Outline and Bibliography Due.

            Reading: Susan Schrepfer, "In Fire, Blossoms, and Blood," from Schrepfer, Nature's Altars: Mountains, Gender, and American Environmentalism (Lawrence, University Press of Kansas, 2005), pp. 152-175   -- material will be distributed in class.


5. February 20th

Reading: Smith, Decade of the Wolf, Chapters 7- Epilogue (Pages 117-194)


6. February 27th - class meets individually with Clemens.


7. March 5th - class meets individually with Clemens


8. March 12th - Class meeting to discuss progress; 5-10 page "introduction" to paper due.


Spring Break


9. March 26th - class meets individually with Clemens


10. April 2nd - Class meeting.  Rough draft due, must be suitable for presentation and critiquing by other students.


11. April 9th - Presentation of Papers  


12. April 17th - Presentation of Papers


13. April 23rd - Presentation of Papers


14. April 30th - Papers duehttp://fas-history.rutgers.edu/clemens/Wolves/Wolves%20and%20Humans%20in%20History_files/image006.jpg




Possible Paper Topics Briefly Described:


A . Paper Topic:  Adolph Murie and early scientific research about wolves


Summary:  Adolph Murie was a biologist and environmentalist who worked for the National Park Service.  In the 1940s, he travelled to what is now Denali National Park in central Alaska, where he conducted the first in-depth scientific study of wolves.  This paper would be about Murie’s work in Alaska, and more generally on the history of the wolf colony in Denali.http://fas-history.rutgers.edu/clemens/Wolves/Wolves%20and%20Humans%20in%20History_files/image006.jpg


B. Paper Topic:  Colonial Laws about Wolves


Summary:  This paper would examine colonial American laws about wolves and how they were interpreted in select colonies. In some colonies (e.g. MD) it would be possible to trace through local records how wolf bounty laws played out. 


C. Paper Topic:  Wolves of Isle Royale


Summary:  Isle Royale in Michigan is the largest island in Lake Superior.  It is now a National Park, and is home to a colony of wolves that have been studied continuously for over 45 years.  The biologists most associated with wolves on Isle Royale are L. David Mech (pronounced Meech) and Rolf Olin Peterson.  This paper would examine the history of the Isle Royale wolf colony, how scientists have studied them, and how the Isle Royale studies have impacted wolf conservation/biology in general.


D. Paper Topic:  Wolves at the Bronx Zoo


Summary:  This paper will examine the history of wolves at the Bronx Zoo, placing this in the context of the history of zoos and of wolves in captivity.


E. Paper Topic:  Werewolves


Summary:  This paper should explore legends about werewolves and their relationship to ideas about actual wolves.  Reports of werewolves date back at least as far as Ancient Greece; you should narrow your focus to a specific time and region but be able to situate it in its larger context. 


F. Paper Topic:  Defenders of Wildlife & Wolf Campaigns

Defenders of Wiildlife


Summary:  Defenders of Wildlife (originally Defenders of Furbearers) is a conservation organization founded in 1947 and based in Washington DC.  They have over half a million members worldwide.  According to the Defenders website (www.defenders.org), their primary goal is wolf restoration and conservation in the continental US.  This paper would examine how Defenders of Wildlife has worked with supporters and opponents of wolf relocation in the Yellowstone area.  


G. Paper Topic:  Wolves at the American Museum of Natural History.


Summary: the wolf exhibit at the museum was one of several that documented the lives of North American animals.  The Museum was a leader in what at the beginning of the nineteenth century was considered the "natural" and "scientific" depiction of animals.  This paper would look into the assumptions behind the creation of the wildlife exhibits and explore why these have increasingly become less acceptable ways of relating humans to animals.


    Diorama American Museum of Natural History

Diorama at American Museum of Natural History.



H. Paper Topic:  Wolves as Metaphor in Early Modern England and British North America


Summary:  Wolves are frequently mentioned in English and North American pamphlets of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  However, most of these works have nothing to do with actual wolves, but rather use the wolf as a symbol for political or religious enemies.  This paper would investigate metaphorical discourses about wolves, what purposes they served, and how and why they changed over time and across space.  Much of the literature deals with the theme of “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (based on the fable in which a wolf infiltrates a flock of sheep by covering himself in a sheepskin, and is then mistaken for a sheep and killed for dinner by the shepherd). You may wish to focus exclusively on this particular metaphor, but you can limit the project in whatever way you see fit.  The searching possibilities in the databases listed below are nearly endless, so you are also free to do a topic about actual wolves if you can find enough sources about it.


I. Paper Topic:  Wolves in Native American Societies


Summary:  This is a broad topic, and should be narrowed to a particular time/space focus.  For example, you could choose to talk about one group and the significance of the wolf to them over time, or you could choose a specific focus – for example the wolf as a character in stories – and analyze several examples from across North America.  Whatever you choose, you must put your events in the context of their time and place. 


J. Paper Topic:  Wolves in Folklore


Summary:  This is a broad topic and you can choose to narrow it however you see fit – e.g. to fairy tales, African American folktales, etc.


K. Paper Topic:  Wolf predator control in the United States


Summary:  Wolves were virtually exterminated from the continental United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  This paper could examine various aspects of the predator control:  how it played out in a specific region, analysing specific texts for what the wolves symbolised to those who were killing them, etc.


L. Paper Topic:  Outlaw Wolves


Summary:  During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, governments and individuals worked to exterminate the wolf from most settled areas of the United States.  A few wolves, known as “outlaw wolves,” became famous for their ability to avoid hunters and traps.  This paper would include stories about individual outlaw wolves but would also be more generally about why outlaw wolves were worth telling stories about, and what they symbolised to the American public. 


M. Paper Topic:  Wolf Reintroduction in New Mexico/Arizona


Summary:  The last wild Mexican wolf was seen in the United States in 1970 (and in Mexico in 1980).  This wolf was added to the Endangered Species list in AZ, TX, and NM in 1976.  In 1982, the Fish and Wildlife Service developed a recovery plan for the species. Captive Mexican wolves were released into the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (NM/AZ) in 1998.  Like wolf reintroductions elsewhere, this program divided local people, and there have been many battles over it in the courts and elsewhere.  The wolf population is slowly increasing today.  There are a lot of sources available for this topic, so you would need to choose one angle – e.g. how the conflict has been portrayed in newspaper articles, how the government or environmental organisations or opponents have argued their case and why they have/have not been successful, etc.


Wolf in Southwest



N. Possible Topic:  Wolves in Music


Summary:  There have been thousands of songs written about wolves (both about the actual animal and wolves as a metaphor for something else).  You will need to locate some of these songs, narrow down your focus (e.g. by period, musical genre, songs that tell the same story or have similar themes, etc.)  You will then analyse how your selected subgroup of songs have portrayed wolves. 


O. Paper Topic:  Wolves in Film


Summary:  Many documentaries have been made about wolves, and they have been popular characters in animations, fantasies, children’s movies, etc.  For this paper, you would choose a certain subset of these movies (limit by genre, issue, time period, specific wolf “actors,” etc.) and analyse them using some of the sources below.


P. Paper Topic:  Wolves in Fiction


Summary:  Wolves are such a popular topic in fiction that you will need to limit your sources.  Possible topics could include:  wolves in fantasy novels, recent novels about conflicts over wolf reintroduction (there are a lot of these and many seem to end in romance), recent historical novels about wolf encounters on the frontier, classic American stories about wolves (e.g. Jack London), stories told from the wolf’s point of view, etc.  Regardless of which books you focus on, you should discuss how perceptions of wolves in the books relate to historical developments and attitudes from the time of their publication. 


Q. Paper Topic:  Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone:  Hearings


Summary:  This paper will investigate the government hearings surrounding wolf reintroduction at Yellowstone.


R. Paper Topic:  Wolf Reintroduction in Yellowstone:  Court Cases


Summary:  This paper will investigate the court cases surrounding wolf reintroduction at Yellowstone.  Part of this paper could also examine how other cases have used the decisions handed down in the Yellowstone litigations.


S. Paper Topic:  Wolf Conservation Issues in Canada


Summary:  This paper will examine how wolf populations are regulated in Canada and/or what meaning they have to Canadians.  How does this compare to the US?


Banff National Park WolfWolf in Banff National Park, Canada