Sam George
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Sex, class and order in Flora’s army
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In late eighteenth-century Britain, in a climate rife with anxieties over disorder and the threat of foreign invasion, botany became bound up with concerns over order and national identity. Charlotte Murray's The British Garden is one of a number of Linnaean floras where habitat and country of origin are central: here, localism, though sometimes in the form of nationalism, and universalism appear to coexist. Linnaean metaphors tended to fall into two categories, either sexual or military. While military analogies enabled botany to take on an ordering nationalistic role, Linnaean sexual metaphors could be interpreted as subversive, undermining moral and social order. These opposing aspects of Linnaean botany are represented by the separate adaptations of Carl Linnaeus by William Withering and Erasmus Darwin. Darwin's work illustrates the dialectical ambivalence of Linnaean botany as applied to society.

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Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830

From modest shoot to forward plant


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