The science of a miniature sea
in The Victorian aquarium
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This chapter considers how aquarium texts were used to assert specific views of science, scientists, and their role in society. In order to situate the vogue within the broader context of mid-century discourses on nature, three themes, which often resurfaced in discussions of the tank, are analysed: the relation between the rhetoric of wonder and a specific idea of science, the fight against ‘old errors’ as a way of policing truth and claiming authority, and the view of science as a collective endeavour. Finally, the aquarists’ perception of the tank’s value as a scientific tool is investigated, tracing the shift from the initial glowing expectations to the recognition that such hopes had to be severely downsized

The Victorian aquarium

Literary discussions on nature, culture and science


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