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You are here: Home / Theses / Cats and Dogs: The Development of the Household Pet through Symbolic Interpretations and Social Practices in the Middle Ages and Renaissance / About

Cats and Dogs: The Development of the Household Pet through Symbolic Interpretations and Social Practices in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

By Lindsey Nicole Blair, Christopher Roy (adviser)

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Category Theses
Abstract

Cats and dogs are perhaps the most ubiquitous and consistently represented animals throughout documented human history. Forms of the respective species have roamed the earth for millions of years; however, cats and dogs have held different societal positions ranging from exalted deities to pests. The ever-changing judgment yet familiarity of these animals earned them metaphorical and visual representations across cultures and periods. In particular, the shifting attitudes and social practices between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe fostered the reexamination of the relationship between humans and animals. Dogs – and later cats – were the earliest animals to be allowed occupancy inside the medieval house solely to serve utilitarian needs. The development of the modern day concept of the household pet began to emerge between the 14th and 16th centuries. By the 16th century, recorded bonds between animal and master became increasingly common alongside breeding for human companionship. The altering human opinion of cats and dogs from objects to animals with the ability to form attachments correlates with the simultaneous iconographic and metaphorical fluctuations of these creatures between the periods. Largely a product of dense textual, biblical, and humanistic philosophies, the medieval interpretations of cats and dogs in art often place the animals at moralistic extremes, while during the Renaissance they adopt more nuanced symbolic and functional roles in art.

Submitter

Katie Osborn

Date 2016
Pages 51
Publisher University of Iowa
Location of Publication Ames, IA 50011
Department Art History
Degree Bachelor of Arts
URL http://ir.uiowa.edu/honors_theses/4/
Language English
Tags
  1. Cats
  2. Dogs
  3. History
  4. Mammals
  5. Pet ownership
  6. Pets and companion animals