Montana State University

Department of History and Philosophy

Montana State University
P.O. Box 172320
Bozeman, MT 59717-3440

Tel: (406) 994-4395
Fax: (406) 994-7420
Location: Wilson Hall 2-155

Department Chair

Dr. David Cherry

Department Business Accounts Manager

Cassandra Balent

Wendy Zirngibl, PhD Student

Wendy Zirngibl

Current Semester


Research Interests


Yellowstone National Park

Dissertation Abstract

The biota of Yellowstone National Park is a force of history, like the humans who feature large in its construction.  Elk and wolves, more than any other wildlife species, have taken part in its production while laboring to accommodate the unremitting changes in political, economic, and conservation strategies devised by humans over historical time.  As products partially of human ideals and practices these animals have become cultural artefacts as much as they are fleshy pieces of the wilderness so prized by their human contemporaries.  In any terms, wolves and elk are both themselves hybrids and part of a larger hybridized nature that reflects anthropogenic permeation and yet maintains the wilderness character that humans embrace and defend.  The subject of this PhD dissertation emerges from my conviction that these two species are historical agents in Greater Yellowstone—with voices quite apart from those we assign them—as well as important artefacts of culture.  Wolves, elk, and people exist in the flesh as biological beings while also engaging in a mutually constitutive relationship among one another.  Ultimately, the three independent agents remain deeply interconnected in the cultural ecology of Greater Yellowstone.


MA, History, Montana State University, 2006

Awards, Honors, and Affiliations

Outstanding Teaching Assistant, College of Letters and Science, MSU (2007)

Teaching Assistant of the Year, Department of History and Philosophy, MSU (2007)

Montana History Scholar, Montana Historical Society (2006)

Cultural Resources Intern, Yellowstone National Park (2005)

Teaching Assistant of the Year, Department of History and Philosophy, MSU (2005)

American Society for Environmental History (since 2006)
Forest History Society (since 2006)
History of Science Society (since 2008)

Recent Publications

“Wolves and Widows: Naming, Metaphor, and the Language of Serial Murder,” Serial Killers—Philosophy for Everyone: Being and Killing, ed. S. Waller, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

“Yellowstone”; “Hunting (Recreational)”; “Eagle,” Encyclopedia of American Environmental History, ed. Kathleen A. Brosnan, New York: Facts on File, 2010

“Benjamin Lay”; “Mary Musgrove Bosomworth”; “Enlightenment (American),” Encyclopedia of American History: Colonization and Settlement, 1685-1763, ed. Billy G. Smith,New York: Facts on File, 2003, revised edition 2010

Review of Calamity: The Heppner Flood of 1903 by Joann Green Byrd. Pacific Northwest Quarterly, forthcoming 2010