Snakes in American Culture

A Hisstory


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About the Book

The literature on snakes is manifold but overwhelmingly centered on the natural sciences. Little has been published about them in the fields of popular culture or the history of medicine.
Focusing primarily on American culture and history from the 1800s, this study draws on a wide range of sources—including newspaper archives, medical journals, and archives from the Smithsonian Institute—to examine the complex relationship between snakes and humans.

About the Author(s)

Jesse C. Donahue is a professor of political science at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.
Conor Shaw-Draves is an assistant professor of English at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Jesse C. Donahue and Conor Shaw-Draves
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 8 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6265-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3453-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface: Dangerous Neighbors by Jesse C. Donahue 1
1. Bitten: Poor Americans and Snakes 13
2. Cures: The Strange and Often Painful Treatment for Snakebite Before American Antivenin 43
3. Antivenin: Bringing the Real Cure to the United States 72
4. On Stage: Traveling Acts, Circuses and Zoos 98
5. On Screen: Snakes in the Movies, Reality Television and Documentaries 122
6. In Jesus’ Name: Holiness and the Handling of Serpents 153
Conclusion: Has Anything Changed? 174
Chapter Notes 191
Bibliography 208
Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

“From Adam and Eve to Snakes on a Plane and countless other cultural motifs that feed our fears, the lowly snake has long repulsed and fascinated us. Why so? Donahue and Shaw-Draves lend some insight by offering a cultural history of these unique creatures. … This book offers a valuable perspective on snakes that would be a welcome addition to any library collection. Excellent references and the careful consideration of historical topics are of particular merit. …recommended”—Choice