Etienne Benson’s engaging history of wildlife radio tracking explores the complicated relationships between concern for conservation and the study of wildlife, especially the degree to which animals, tagged and tracked and managed by humans, can be considered natural. In exploring these issues Benson reveals the surprisingly controversial origins of radio tracking within field biology and […]Read more "Etienne Benson Wired Wilderness"
This is the presentation I gave for the Midwest Junto History of Science conference: Collecting the Sounds of Nature presentation Today I would like to discuss the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and its relationship to the bird watching community. Narratives of laboratory life have presented the Laboratory as a professionalizing space that separates scientists and […]Read more "Collecting the Sounds of Nature: Bird Watchers and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology"
On May 14, the World Series of Birding kicks off in New Jersey as teams from around the country will spend a desperate 24 hours trying to accumulate the largest number of bird species. The birds are identified and placed upon the checklist in a manner of minutes before they careen down the road to […]Read more "The Fight for Sight (records)"
It seems strange to say but there was a time when ornithologists did not watch birds. They shot birds, skinned birds, stuffed birds, painted birds, and classified birds. They did all sorts of things with birds. But they did not watch them. Ornithology, like most disciplines that emerged out of natural history, remained a collection […]Read more "Ornithologists and Birdwatchers"
Robert Kohler’s All Creatures examines a unique period in the history of the United States: the brief window of time in which large areas of the natural environment became both relatively easy to access while remaining largely wilderness areas. In transitioning to what Kohler terms “inner frontiers” these natural environments experienced both physical and cultural […]Read more "Robert Kohler: All Creatures"
While not denying the importance of the context of imperialism in natural history, Irmsher is much more concerned with what natural history meant in the lives of the individuals who engaged in it. Thus for Irmsher, natural history becomes a kind of autobiography where they assembly of nature is also an assembly of self. Consequently, […]Read more "Christoph Irmsher: The Poetics of Natural History"
The study of insects, Clark argues, was central to the concerns of Victorians. The society of insects provided a surrogate to study the society of man and its rational improvement. Just as Drayton had looked to the shifting physical arrangement in botanical gardens as a manifestation of natural knowledge and a site for experiments in […]Read more "J.F.M. Clark: Bugs and the Victorians"