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History of Science Paper on Fossil Reptiles



I have this if anyone wants the PDF (I'll wait for several responses
before sending it out)

Isis, June 2007:

" 'Beyond the Pale of Ordinary Criticism': Eccentricity and the Fossil
Books of Thomas Hawkins"

Victoria Carroll

ABSTRACT
Thomas Hawkins wrote two books about his extraordinary collection of
fossil reptiles: Memoirs of Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri (1834) and
The Book of the Great Sea-Dragons (1840). When contemporary readers
explicitly labeled these books "eccentric," they were making use of a
new discourse that aimed to make sense of phenomena that appeared to
transgress the boundaries of an increasingly ordered and structured
world. Some modern-day commentators have dismissed Hawkins's books
because of their perceived eccentricities. This essay, by contrast,
uses techniques of close reading and reception analysis to investigate
them precisely as specimens of "eccentric" literature. It argues that,
like other eccentric phenomena, the books were perceived to be
liminal—they were felt to undermine the generic boundaries that
governed the production and interpretation of the different kinds of
literary work. Eccentricity as a social and cultural phenomenon has
received surprisingly little attention from scholars until very
recently. Through analyzing and contextualizing Hawkins's books, and
the varied responses they provoked, this essay aims to contribute to
our understanding both of eccentricity and of the generic conventions
shaping varieties of scientific writing in the nineteenth century and
beyond.



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Michael D. Barton
    Bozeman, MT
         MSU Bozeman, History-SETS Major
              darwinsbulldog@gmail.com
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