Alexander Wilson: Enlightened Naturalist (Aperçus: Histories Texts Cultures)

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9781611487947: Alexander Wilson: Enlightened Naturalist (Aperçus: Histories Texts Cultures)

When talking about the Enlightenment, ornithology is seldom the first topic of conversation. Still, Enlightenment and ornithology converge in one important respect, that of abundance. In our time, new-wave ornithologists have renewed their faith in eighteenth-century expectations for the discovery of a gigantic number of bird species. It is at this intersection between abundant modern science and ambitious Enlightenment ideology that this remarkable collection of five essays on Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), the father of American ornithology, makes its original and delightful contribution. Alexander Wilson: Enlightened Naturalist recovers Wilson’s literary, artistic and musical pursuits, and the cultural contexts of his life in the Scotland of Robert Burns. It also explores Wilson’s scientific and philosophic contribution to American ornithology in American Ornithology; or The Natural History of the Birds of theUnited States, published in Philadelphia between 1808 and 1814. Alexander Wilson is richly illustrated, links to a web site of audio readings of Wilson’s Scots poems– links that are embedded in the ebook–and includes a tribute to the late Edward H. Burtt, Jr., who died shortly before publication.

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About the Author:

The late Edward H. Burtt, Jr. was the Cincinnati Conference Professor of Zoology at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Review:

This book contains five essays devoted to the work of Alexander Wilson (1766-1813), the Scottish-born ornithologist often described as the “Father of American Ornithology.” The edited collection completes the project initially conceived by Edward H. Burtt (emer., zoology, Ohio Wesleyan Univ.), a dedicated ornithologist who died in April 2016, before the work could be finished. Burtt focused attention on Wilson because he was a central figure in American ornithology. Although a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, Wilson rejected Greek neoclassical learning in favor of nature. The essays cover many aspects of Wilson’s life—e.g., his artistic, literary, and musical contributions stand out along with his work as a naturalist. Many of Wilson’s poems are reprinted here, often bearing an ornithological theme. Wilson is evaluated as a Scots poet, but poetry written after his emigration to America is well represented. Other essays discuss his studies of American birds, and the effect he had on the field. There are many magnificently colored plates illustrating the bird species Wilson studied and painted. They are a fitting tribute to both Wilson and Burtt, and will appeal to naturalists, ornithology students, and natural history researchers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; researchers and faculty. (CHOICE)

This book reflects the varied topics that arise in symposia covering a person’s life and work and diligently pursues their precise documentation. It is a book written by and with scholars in mind. However, much may be gleaned by those with an interest in the history of ornithology, the development of field practices, taxonomic issues, and the intersection of these with the arts of poetry and painting. (The Canadian Field-Naturalist)

Combining one of the prettiest sciences, ornithology, with multiple subspecialties within eighteenth-century studies (art history, literary history, cultural studies, political history), Alexander Wilson: Enlightened Naturalist will enjoy a wide and possibly even popular audience, for it combines scholarly precision with appealing illustrations while it addresses an ever-loved topic. (Kevin L. Cope, Louisiana State University)

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Book Description Bucknell University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book examines the power of cross-disciplinary thinking. Alexander Wilson was a published poet, an accomplished musician, a skilled artist and an insightful observer. All these skills came together in his truly revolutionary text, American Ornithology, which is the founding document of American ornithology. The elegance of its writing, the novelty of its art, and the excellence of its science make Wilson s Ornithology worth consulting even today, two centuries after its publication. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781611487947

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Book Description Bucknell University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. This book examines the power of cross-disciplinary thinking. Alexander Wilson was a published poet, an accomplished musician, a skilled artist and an insightful observer. All these skills came together in his truly revolutionary text, American Ornithology, which is the founding document of American ornithology. The elegance of its writing, the novelty of its art, and the excellence of its science make Wilson s Ornithology worth consulting even today, two centuries after its publication. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781611487947

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