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Bio Faculty

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Katherine Grier
Professor
Director, Museum Studies Program
University of Delaware
208 John Munroe Hall -or- 77 E. Main Street
Newark, DE 19716
302-831-2388
302-831-1251

Biography

​Katherine C. (Kasey) Grier joined the Department of History as a full professor and Director of the Museum Studies Program in September 2008. A graduate of Princeton University (B.A. 1975), the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Historical Museum Studies (M.A. 1980), and the University of Delaware (Ph.D. American Civilization, History, 1988), Dr. Grier is a specialist in material culture studies whose research interests lie in the history of everyday life in America, especially household routines, domestic interiors, and foodways. Her most current book, Pets in America: A History (University of North Carolina Press, 2006) grew out of a developing interest in the history of animal-human interaction. Her current research interests in this field include the development of the pet food industry, the lives of animals in American cities, and selective breeding of small animals for ornamental purposes. Dr. Grier is also the curator of “Pets in America: The Story of Our Lives with Animals at Home,” a travelling exhibition that has been touring the United States since 2006.

Publications

Books:

  • Culture and Comfort: Parlor Making and Middle-Class Identity, 1850-1930 (Smithsonian Books, 2010).
  • Pets in America: A History (University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

 

 

Culture and Comfort: Parlor Making and Middle-Class Identity, 1850-1930Grier, KatherineSmithsonian Books2010https://www.smithsonianbooks.com/store/history/culture-and-comfort-parlor-making-and-middle-class/<p>​In <em>Culture and Comfort</em> Katherine C. Grier shows how the design and furnishings of the mid-nineteenth century parlor reflected the self-image of the Victorian middle class. Parlors provided public facades for formal occasions and represented an attempt to resolve the often opposing ideals of gentility and sincerity to which American culture aspired. The book traces the fortunes of the parlor and its upholstery from its early incarnations in “palace” hotels, railroad cars, steamships, and photographers' studios; through its mid-century heyday, when even remote frontier homes could boast “suites” of red plush sofas and chairs; to its slow, uneven metamorphosis into the more versatile living room. The author argues that even as the home increasingly was seen as a haven from industralization and commercialization, its ties to industry and commerce—in the form of more affordable, machine-made furniture and drapery—became stronger.By the 1920s the parlor's decline signaled both a blurring of the Victorian distinctions between public and private manners and the transfer of middle-class identity from the home to the automobile. Describing the deportment a parlor required, the activities it sheltered, and the marketing and manufacturing breakthroughs that made it available to all, <em>Culture and Comfort</em> reveals the full range of cultural messages conveyed by nineteenth-century parlor materials.</p>
Pets in America: A HistoryGrier, KatherineUniversity of North Carolina Press2006https://www.uncpress.org/book/9781469614724/pets-in-america/?title_id=1255<p> </p><h4>Awards & distinctions</h4><p> </p><p>A <em>New York Times Book Review</em> Editors’ Choice</p><p> </p><p> </p><p>Entertaining and informative,<em> Pets in America</em> is a portrait of Americans' relationships with the cats, dogs, birds, fishes, rodents, and other animals we call our own. More than 60 percent of U.S. households have pets, and America grows more pet-friendly every day. But as Katherine C. Grier demonstrates, the ways we talk about and treat our pets--as companions, as children, and as objects of beauty, status, or pleasure--have their origins long ago. </p><p>Grier begins with a natural history of animals as pets, then discusses the changing role of pets in family life, new standards of animal welfare, the problems presented by borderline cases such as livestock pets, and the marketing of both animals and pet products. She focuses particularly on the period between 1840 and 1940, when the emotional, behavioral, and commercial characteristics of contemporary pet keeping were established. The story is filled with the warmth and humor of anecdotes from period diaries, letters, catalogs, and newspapers.</p><p>Filled with illustrations reflecting the whimsy, the devotion, and the commerce that have shaped centuries of American pet keeping, <em>Pets in America</em> ultimately shows how the history of pets has evolved alongside changing ideas about human nature, child development, and community life. </p>

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  • Department of History
  • 46 W. Delaware Avenue
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2371
  • history@udel.edu