Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture by Theresa M. Kelley

By Theresa M. Kelley

Romanticism was once a cultural and highbrow circulate characterised by means of discovery, revolution, and the poetic in addition to by means of the philosophical courting among humans and nature. Botany sits on the intersection the place romantic clinical and literary discourses meet. Clandestine Marriage explores the which means and strategies of the way crops have been represented and reproduced in medical, literary, creative, and fabric cultures of the interval.

Theresa M. Kelley synthesizes romantic debates approximately taxonomy and morphology, the modern curiosity in books and magazines dedicated to plant examine and pictures, and writings through such authors as Mary Wollstonecraft and Anna Letitia Barbauld. interval botanical work of plant life are reproduced in bright colour, bringing her argument and the romantics' ardour for crops to life.

In addition to exploring botanic proposal and perform within the context of British romanticism, Kelley additionally appears to the German philosophical traditions of Kant, Hegel, and Goethe and to Charles Darwin’s reflections on orchids and plant pollination. Her interdisciplinary procedure permits a deeper knowing of a time while exploration of the flora and fauna was once a culture-wide attraction.

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For Bicheno, the history of taxonomy from Linnaeus to the Natural System marked a critical disabling of that project. Whereas Linnaeus was concerned to identify species and worked out a descending series of artificial categories down to the level of species, where the number and proportion of fructifying parts was “most obvious and least liable to vary,” the Natural System works in the opposite direction, from “genera . . ”14 The other side of this story is, however, the impediment to generalization that such particulars presented to systematicists from Jussieu on as they both identified distinctive characters of species and genera and admitted that members of these groups might not fully accord with the list of defining traits.

One could perhaps argue that this is a problem only if one imagines the relation of the singular individual to the society of citizens as one of a part to a whole. Yet this is precisely what we do. It is even more precisely what taxonomic inquiry does. Some modern biologists and philosophers of science have turned this hypothesis on its head, suggesting that species are themselves individuals and as such not categories to which individuals can be appropriately assigned. If, as David Hull has argued, an “individual” is “a particular, a thing denoted by its name and nothing else,”37 it becomes something else (and/or something more) once it is identified b o t a n i c a l m a t t e r s 29 as a member of a species or kind.

57 Among later naturalists, objections tended to be more practically directed. ” Philip Miller, director of the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, and the author of the popular Gardeners Dictionary (1752), repeatedly complained to Bartram about Linnaeus’s genera: “Doctor Linneaus, has joyned so many genera together as occasions confusion. ”60 Bartram’s observation registered a crucial difficulty. 61 Plants that seemed to be hybrids or even “monsters” were thus by definition not true or reliable members of a species.

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