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From modest shoot to forward plant
Author: Sam George

The stereotype of the forward, sexually precocious female botanist made its first appearance in literature in the turbulent revolutionary climate of the 1790s. The emergence of this figure illustrates both the contemporary appeal, particularly to women, of the Linnaean Sexual System of botanical classification, and the anxieties surrounding female modesty that it provoked. This book explores the cultivation of the female mind and the feminised discourse of botanical literature in eighteenth-century Britain. In particular, it discusses British women's engagement with the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, and his unsettling discovery of plant sexuality. The book also explores nationality and sexuality debates in relation to botany and charts the appearance of a new literary stereotype, the sexually precocious female botanist. It investigates the cultivation of the female mind and its implications for the theories of the feminised discourse of botanical literature. The book also investigates a process of feminisation of botany in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and Priscilla Wakefield's letters on botany; these were literary and educational texts addressed specifically to women. Linnaean classification exemplified order, making botany an ideal discipline for young British women in the eighteenth century. Erasmus Darwin's explicit discussion of sexuality related to the aura of illicit sexuality that had surrounded Sir Joseph Banks. Richard Polwhele appropriates Collinsonia's image of the promiscuous female to allude to Mary Wollstonecraft's sexuality, drawing on forward plants in Darwin and Thomas Mathias. The book finally looks at early nineteenth-century debates and demonstrates how scientific botany came into conflict with the craft of floristry.

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Helen Cowie

project appeared rather different. Where Spanish savants relished the ability to collate, compare and exhibit natural products from around the globe in the botanical garden, the royal pharmacy or the museum, their American counterparts cherished their proximity to nature’s riches and the opportunity for sustained observation in the field. Where Spaniards subscribed to universal systems like Linnaean botanical

in Conquering nature in Spain and its empire, 1750–1850
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Sam George

THE STEREOTYPE of the forward, sexually precocious female botanist made its first appearance in literature in the turbulent revolutionary climate of the 1790s, though women had, in fact, been avidly botanising earlier in the century. The emergence of this figure illustrates both the contemporary appeal, particularly to women, of the Linnaean Sexual System of botanical

in Botany, sexuality and women’s writing 1760–1830
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Agricultural improvement and public opinion
Allan Blackstock

be the most useful’. Richardson played his cards carefully. While this memoir mentioned fiorin, its thrust was ideological: improving knowledge must be practical and not merely ‘philosophical’ or theoretical. Experimentation was not an end, but a means to a utilitarian goal. Parliamentary subsidies should encourage practical experiments but public money must not be squandered on botanical science. Farmers were baffled by the complexity of botanical classification, for example as was practised in Glasnevin Botanical Garden. Parliament’s ‘national liberality’ had

in Science, politics and society in early nineteenth-century Ireland
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Hood and the grotesque
Sara Lodge

Society’ as a sequence of pairs: a giraffe and a man with the face of a giraffe, a chimp and a dwarf, a stork and a man-stork etc. Such similarities between work by Hood and Cruikshank in the 1830s and Lear in the 1840s, which does not merely meld organic forms but explores physiological analogy and the language of zoological and botanical classification, highlight the shared ambience of curiosity at this time surrounding possible relationships between the development of human and non-human bodies, and the way that this curiosity informs nineteenth-century grotesque art

in Thomas Hood and nineteenth-century poetry