Flight Ways: An Interview

Thom van Dooren’s new book is an absolute must-read. Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia University Press, 2014) is a beautifully written and evocative meditation on extinction. The book offers (and implicates us in) stories about five groups of birds – albatrosses, vultures, Little Penguins, whooping cranes, and Hawaiian crows – that build upon one another and collectively enable us to explore … Continue reading Flight Ways: An Interview

The Nature of the Beasts: An Interview

A new understanding of animals was central to how Japanese people redefined their place in the natural world in the nineteenth century. In his recent book, Ian Miller explores this transformation and its reverberations in a fascinating study of the emergence of an “ecological modernity” at the Ueno Zoo in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We spoke about the book earlier this year, and you … Continue reading The Nature of the Beasts: An Interview

Catching Nature in the Act: An Interview

Mary Terrall’s new book is a beautifully-written, carefully-researched, and compellingly-argued account of the practices of natural history in the eighteenth-century francophone world. It is a must-read for historians of science, and as a bonus it also includes descriptions of frog pants, chickens wearing stockings, and mittens made of spider silk. You can find our conversation about it here. Continue reading Catching Nature in the Act: An Interview

The Monkey And the Inkpot

The Monkey and the Inkpot: Natural History and its Transformations in Early Modern China (Harvard University Press, 2009) The Monkey and the Inkpot introduces natural history in sixteenth century China through the iconic Bencao gangmu (Systematic materia medica) of Li Shizhen (1518–1593). The encyclopedic Bencao gangmu is widely lauded as a classic embodiment of pre-modern Chinese medical thought. This first book-length study in English of Li’s text reveals a “cabinet of curiosities” of … Continue reading The Monkey And the Inkpot