Shakespeare's Starlings Literary History and the Fictions of Invasiveness

dc.citation.epage322en_US
dc.citation.issue2en_US
dc.citation.spage301en_US
dc.citation.volume13en_US
dc.contributor.authorFugate, Lauren
dc.contributor.authorMiller, John MacNeill
dc.contributor.avlauthorMiller, John MacNeill
dc.contributor.departmentEnglishen_US
dc.date.accessioned2022-10-05T13:12:21Z
dc.date.available2022-10-05T13:12:21Z
dc.date.issued2021-11-01
dc.description.abstractScientists, environmentalists, and nature writers often report that all common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in North America descend from a flock released in New York City in 1890 by Eugene Schieffelin, a man obsessed with importing all the birds mentioned by Shakespeare. This article uses the methods of literary history to investigate this popular anecdote. Today starlings are much despised as an invasive species that displaces native birds and does almost a billion dollars worth of damage to agriculture annually. Because of the starling's pest status, the Schieffelin story is considered a cautionary tale about the dangers of ecological ignorance. Diving into the history of the Schieffelin story reveals, however, that it is almost entirely fictional. Tracing how its elements emerged and changed over a century of retelling clarifies how the story came to shore up uncertainties in the bird's environmental history and to distract from the lack of data supporting the starling's supposedly disastrous impacts. In explaining how a fiction repeated over time attained the status of fact in debates about invasive species, this literary history suggests humanistic methods can serve as useful tools for understanding the value-laden narratives underpinning environmental attitudes and practices today.en_US
dc.description.sponsorshipAllegheny College Provost Ron Cole; Heber Harper Endowed Funden_US
dc.description.versionPublished articleen_US
dc.identifier.citationLauren Fugate, John MacNeill Miller; Shakespeare’s Starlings: Literary History and the Fictions of Invasiveness. Environmental Humanities 1 November 2021; 13 (2): 301–322. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-9320167en_US
dc.identifier.doi10.1215/22011919-9320167
dc.identifier.issn2201-1919
dc.identifier.urihttps://dspace.allegheny.edu/handle/10456/55405
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.publisherDuke University Pressen_US
dc.relation.ispartofEnvironmental Humanitiesen_US
dc.relation.isversionofhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1215/22011919-9320167en_US
dc.rights© 2021 Lauren Fugate and John MacNeill Miller. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).en_US
dc.subjectAnimal studiesen_US
dc.subjectInvasive speciesen_US
dc.subjectCultural historyen_US
dc.subjectEnvironmental historyen_US
dc.subjectNarrative studiesen_US
dc.titleShakespeare's Starlings Literary History and the Fictions of Invasivenessen_US
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