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16th and 17th centuries
times of extraordinary religious, economic, and intellectual upheaval (Europe was deluged by novelties of all kinds: birds of paradise, armadillos, anomalies: solar eclipse, comet, narwhal tusk, etc.)
(Daston >) Bacon [standing on an extremely unstable scientific ground] used monsters and marvels (as a sort of intellectual hygiene) to jolt people out of their assumptions about the natural world
=/= Aristotelian natural philosophy
--> anomaly took center stage of scientific explanations ~= art's investment in the exceptional
==> curiosity becomes a virtue =/= vice
nature is allowed to joke
nature has the freedom to experiment =/= God
--> ended by:
18th century's *division of labor*
19th century's *institution of science*

(two-headed cat's) deformations --> terrifying + electrifying
[*]bestiary = Telegram media from God:
sign of end
sign of fecundity, creativity, variety of nature


“everyone was trafficking in marvels in the 17th century”

... --> premodern sci --> age of wonder --> modern science --> ...

cabinets of curiosity
(Daston's) chambers of wonders
to overwhelm you
to impress the ambassador

for Aristotle, philosophy starts with wonder, but you make it disappear as soon as possible (“wonder = sign of ignorance” of the unlettered and illiterate)

genre of natural history involving the marvels of insects --> domesticate the emotion of wonder for things we can explain

Daston =/= (early 20th century) morose and elegiac discourse about the disenchantment of the world


pessimism ~= realism
(optimism ~= idealism)


wonder technology exhibition media image world system planet fuse [source: Frank Vincentz / Wunder des Sonnensystems, Ausstellung im Gasometer Oberhausen] (to move from) eternal truths --to--> eternal archives
(an aesthetic:) archival monuments

despite computer's hype and undeniable capacity and flexibility of computerize databases, the practices of collecting, inventorying, describing, image-making, collating, and publishing have remaining stable since the monumental projects of 19th century: corpus inscriptionum latinarum, carte du ciel, botanical gardens, etc. --> archival projects


popular and learned interest in monsters

(in the 16th century & 17th century Baconian scientific programm:) treatments of nature and natural history must have included (with rigorous selection) monsters (~ aberrations in the natural order: new, rare, and unusual nature, both exotic & domestic)
[*]nature: an ingenious craftsman --> [*]monster: nature's most artful work (--> they bridged the natural & the artificial)
corresponded to the activities of nature =/= types of subject matter, methods of investigation
interest in irregularities (=/= end of 17th century interest in nature's uniformity and order)

Lazarus exhibition, the parasitic twin (the italian conjoined twins who toured freak shows in 17th century europe)

(Daston --> a case study of) the changing relationship between popular & learned culture

legal status of monsters
infanticide in antiquity

earlier tradition of interest in monster:
Aristotle --> Albertus Magnus
divine sign --> Cicero, Augustine, Isidore of Sevill
cosmographical & anthropologic --> Solinus

monsters in a context of a whole natural phenomen (bestiary):
earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, celestial apparitions, strange rains (of blood), stones, and miscellanea

(monsters --> shift from) signs of God's wrat --to--> signs of nature's fertility
(by the end of 17th century) --to--> comparative anatomy and embryology (teratology)
(from) اعجوبه prodigy --to--> examples of medical pathology

*peasant and professional had participated to a significant extent in a shared culture of intellectual and religious interest* ---->{
(literate culture evolved far more rapidly ==> sharpening of social boundaries of)
city dwellers =/= peasants
urban literate elite =/= unlettered day laboure
--> for the educated layman: (religious associations of) monsters = another manifestation of popular ignorance and superstition --fostering--> uncritical wonder =/= sober investigation of natural cause

prodigy --> contrary to nature --> attributable directly to God (divine displeasure)
-the sunne shal suddenly shine againe in the night, and the moone thre times a day. blood shal drop out of the wood, and the stone shal give his voyce [...] There shalbe a confusion in many places, and the fyre shal oft breake forthe, and the wilde beastes shal change their places, and menstruous women shal beare monstres[...]

monstrum = prodigium ==> monstrat [monstro: i wonder --> i indict --> i teach, demonstrate] = god's will
apocalyptic association --> world reformation, the overthrow of the wicked --> vindication of god's elect

(bestiaries were a lot commentaries)

various bestial parts...

bestial vices and errors (of...)

ephemeral literature
displayed and recited publicly
characteristically illustrated
appeal through spoken word & image to the illiterate

Pierre Boaistuau [<== Peucer, Lycosthenes, Swiss surgeon Jakob Rueff, naturalist Konrad Gesner, Pierre Belon]
histoire tragique
histoire prodigieuse (monster literature, bestiary?)
two-headed woman seen in Bavaria in 1541
three-legged Siamese twins from 1552
calf without forelegs reported in 1556
celebrated monster of Cracow

ghoulish tone, religious didacticism, erudite آموزنده, monsters as polemical weapons
nature's wonder?--> to “discovre the secret judgment and scourge of the ire of God”

The Scripture sayth, before the ende
Of all thinges shall appeare,
God will wounders straunge thinges send,
As some is sene this yeare.
The selye infantes, voyde of shape,
The calues and pygges so straunge,
With other mo of suche mishape,
Declareth this worldes chaunge.

...monsters began to lose their religious resonance
it was unlawful to “delight” in the undesirable
portentous meaning of monster

(from) fear --to--> delight
(from) prodigy --to--> wonder
(from) sermon --to--> table-talk
(from) horrible, terrible, effrayable, espouventable --to--> strange, wonderful, merveilleux (marvelous جالب)
(from) final cause --to--> proximate cause (physical explanations and the natural order)
}==> nature began to assume the role of an autonomous entity with a will (and sense of humour of her own) ~~> natural wonder

wonder literature ([lavishly illustrated bestiary, cosmography, travel literature, geological curiosa, herbal and astrological lore,] of later 16th and 17th century Daston) --> secularization of an interest in (monsters as) prodigies
--part-of--> the great body of common culture
--affinity--> popular 16th century genre of diverses lefons (selections from famous authors)

catalogues of strange instances or hidden properties of animals, vegetables and mineral
(middle class culture in elizabethan england)

prodigies denuded of their supernatural aura & (presented) to surprise and entertain the reader =/= to acquaint the reader with imminent apocalypse and judgeme

Certaine Secrete Wonders of Nature

portentous events بد شگون

(crocodiles) to be granted honorary monstrous status by virtue of their rarit

many will reade them [monsters], heare them and haue profit by them, that otherwise whould neuer haue knowen them. For many (I suppose) will buye this Booke for the things whereto they are affectioned, that neuer coulde or would have bought, or looked on the bookes, wherein all they are. -Lupton

common and popular forms of escapist literature: *travel books* and *chivalric romanc*
(--> don Quixote)
monstrous races (men with a single giant foot, or huge ears, or their faces on their chests, giants and dwarfs)

medically oriented monster literature

[Daston:] Pare was forced to eliminate a section on lesbianism, with a graphic description of the female genitals, before including Des monstres in later editi[...]