November 21, 2008
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v2.1 Reference

Killing Tradition

Inside Hunting and Animal Rights Controversies

Across the country and around the world, people avidly engage in the cultural practice of hunting. Children are taken on rite-of-passage hunting trips, where relationships are cemented and legacies are passed on from one generation to another. Meals are prepared from hunted game, often consisting of regionally specific dishes that reflect a community's heritage and character. Deer antlers and bear skins are hung on living room walls, decorations and relics of a hunter's most impressive kills. Only 5 percent of Americans are hunters, but that group has a substantial presence in the cultural consciousness. Hunting has spurred controversy in recent years, inciting protest from animal rights activists and lobbying from anti-cruelty demonstrators who denounce the custom. But hunters have responded to such criticisms and the resulting legislative censures with a significant argument in their defense—the claim that their practices are inextricably connected to a cultural tradition. Further, they counter that they, as representatives of the rural lifestyle, pioneer heritage, and traditional American values, are the ones being victimized. Simon J. Bronner investigates this debate in Killing Tradition: Inside Hunting and Animal Rights Controversies. Through extensive research and fieldwork, Bronner takes on the many questions raised by this problematic subject: Does hunting promote violence toward humans as well as animals? Is it an outdated activity, unnecessary in modern times? Is the heritage of hunting worth preserving? Killing Tradition looks at three case studies that are at the heart of today's hunting debate. Bronner first examines the allegedly barbaric rituals that take place at deer camps every late November in rural America. He then analyzes the annual Labor Day pigeon shoot of Hegins, Pennsylvania, which brings animal rights protests to a fever pitch. Noting that these aren't simply American concerns (and that the animal rights movement in America is linked to British animal welfare protests), Bronner examines the rancor surrounding the passage of Great Britain's Hunting Act of 2004—the most comprehensive and divisive anti-hunting legislation ever enacted. The practice of hunting is sure to remain controversial, as it continues to be touted and defended by its supporters and condemned and opposed by its detractors. With Killing Tradition, Bronner reflects on the social, psychological, and anthropological issues of the debate, reevaluating notions of violence, cruelty, abuse, and tradition as they have been constructed and contested in the twenty-first century.

About the Author

Simon J. Bronner is Distinguished University Professor of American Studies and Folklore and director of the Pennsylvania Center for Culture Studies at The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg. He is the editor of the four-volume Encyclopedia of American Folklife, Manly Traditions: The Folk Roots of American Masculinities, Consuming Visions: Accumulation and Display of Goods in America, 1880-1920, and other volumes, and the author of several books, including Folk Nation: Folklore in the Creation of American Tradition, Grasping Things: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America, Following Tradition: Folklore in the Discourse of American Culture, and The Carver's Art: Crafting Meaning from Wood.


""Killing Tradition: Inside Hunting and Animal Rights Controversies is invaluable to students and scholars in a variety of fields, especially those in folklore, culture studies, history, and American studies." Ronald L. Baker, Chairperson Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana"—Ronald L. Baker, Chairperson Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of English, Indiana

""Killing Tradition makes a significant contribution to a range of academic fields relating to studies of human-animal relations. In particular it makes a valuable contribution to the still-sparse academic literature that seeks to explore, understand, and interpret varieties of sports hunting as cultural events. Extremely well written and a pleasure to read." Garry Marvin, Roehampton University"—Garry Marvin, Roehampton University

""In this impressive study of the culture wars over hunting and of the clash between folk traditions and the forces of modernity, Bronner mines a broad variety of evidence and employs the ideas and methods of a number of disciplines to show the deeply mythic meanings at stake as hunters defend their traditions against animal rights activists and others who seek to ban blood sports." Jay Mechling, University of California, Davis"—Jay Mechling, University of California, Davis

"Simon Bronner's fascinating, fair-minded, and beautifully written book forcefully demonstrates the centrality of hunting and animal rights issues to any consideration of modern culture. Richly informed by the interdisciplinary fields of folklore, American studies, psychology, gender studies, popular culture, geography, and comparative history, Bronner uses deer hunting, pigeon shooting, and hare-coursing in order to illuminate the highly contested meanings of tradition and modernity in American and British society."—Janet M. Davis, University of Texas at Austin"—Janet M. Davis

"Simon Bronner's Killing Tradition is engaging, clearly written, and generous." David Romtvedt, www.dailyyonder.com"—David Romtvedt, www.dailyyonder.com

""Quite an interesting read. Highly recommended." Choice"—Choice

"[a] rich offering of ethnographic fieldwork and literary scholarship...the material is presented with great gusto...fascinating reading that includes the ethnography of the hunters, shooters, and coursers themselves and that of their opponents...[the book] is really about something far deeper, today's complex values-clashes: rural versus urban, provinical versus cosmopolitan, conservative versus liberal, patriarchal versus gender-egalitarian, traditional versus modern, and whether or not humans subdue nature or allow themselves to be part of it." Journal of Folklore Research"—Journal of Folklore Research

9780813125282 : killing-tradition-bronner
320 Pages
$60.00 USD

Other Titles by Simon J. Bronner

Pennsylvania Germans

edited by Simon J. Bronner and Joshua R. Brown
Jan 2017 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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Explaining Traditions

Simon J. Bronner
Aug 2015 - University Press of Kentucky
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Grasping Things

Simon J. Bronner
Dec 2004 - University Press of Kentucky
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Other Titles in SOCIAL SCIENCE / Folklore & Mythology

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Ghosts of the Carolinas

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