THE PASSAGE TO COSMOS ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT AND THE SHAPING OF AMERICA

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The Passage To Cosmos

Author : Laura Dassow Walls
ISBN : 9780226871844
Genre : Science
File Size : 83.64 MB
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Explorer, scientist, writer, and humanist, Alexander von Humboldt was the most famous intellectual of the age that began with Napoleon and ended with Darwin. With Cosmos, the book that crowned his career, Humboldt offered to the world his vision of humans and nature as integrated halves of a single whole. In it, Humboldt espoused the idea that, while the universe of nature exists apart from human purpose, its beauty and order, the very idea of the whole it composes, are human achievements: cosmos comes into being in the dance of world and mind, subject and object, science and poetry. Humboldt’s science laid the foundations for ecology and inspired the theories of his most important scientific disciple, Charles Darwin. In the United States, his ideas shaped the work of Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, and Whitman. They helped spark the American environmental movement through followers like John Muir and George Perkins Marsh. And they even bolstered efforts to free the slaves and honor the rights of Indians. Laura Dassow Walls here traces Humboldt’s ideas for Cosmos to his 1799 journey to the Americas, where he first experienced the diversity of nature and of the world’s peoples—and envisioned a new cosmopolitanism that would link ideas, disciplines, and nations into a global web of knowledge and cultures. In reclaiming Humboldt’s transcultural and transdisciplinary project, Walls situates America in a lively and contested field of ideas, actions, and interests, and reaches beyond to a new worldview that integrates the natural and social sciences, the arts, and the humanities. To the end of his life, Humboldt called himself “half an American,” but ironically his legacy has largely faded in the United States. The Passage to Cosmos will reintroduce this seminal thinker to a new audience and return America to its rightful place in the story of his life, work, and enduring legacy.
Category: Science

Seeing New Worlds

Author : Laura Dassow Walls
ISBN : 0299147436
Genre : Science
File Size : 75.56 MB
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Thoreau was a poet, a naturalist, a major American writer. Was he also a scientist? He was, Laura Dassow Walls suggests. Her book, the first to consider Thoreau as a serious and committed scientist, will change the way we understand his accomplishment and the place of science in American culture. Walls reveals that the scientific texts of Thoreau’s day deeply influenced his best work, from Walden to the Journal to the late natural history essays. Here we see how, just when literature and science were splitting into the “two cultures” we know now, Thoreau attempted to heal the growing rift. Walls shows how his commitment to Alexander von Humboldt’s scientific approach resulted in not only his “marriage” of poetry and science but also his distinctively patterned nature studies. In the first critical study of his “The Dispersion of Seeds” since its publication in 1993, she exposes evidence that Thoreau was using Darwinian modes of reasoning years before the appearance of Origin of Species. This book offers a powerful argument against the critical tradition that opposes a dry, mechanistic science to a warm, “organic” Romanticism. Instead, Thoreau’s experience reveals the complex interaction between Romanticism and the dynamic, law-seeking science of its day. Drawing on recent work in the theory and philosophy of science as well as literary history and theory, Seeing New Worlds bridges today’s “two cultures” in hopes of stimulating a fuller consideration of representations of nature.
Category: Science

Emerson S Life In Science

Author : Laura Dassow Walls
ISBN : 0801440440
Genre : Literary Criticism
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Ralph Waldo Emerson has traditionally been cast as a dreamer and a mystic, concerned with the ideals of transcendentalism rather than the realities of contemporary science and technology. In Laura Dassow Walls's view Emerson was a leader of the secular avant-garde in his day. He helped to establish science as the popular norm of truth in America and to modernize American popular thought. In addition, he became a hero to a post-Darwinian generation of Victorian Dissenters, exemplifying the strong connection between transcendentalism and later nineteenth-century science.In his early years as a minister, Emerson read widely in natural philosophy (or physics), chemistry, geology, botany, and comparative anatomy. When he left the church, it was to seek the truths written in the book of nature rather than in books of scripture. While visiting the Paris Museum of Natural History during his first European tour, Emerson experienced a revelation so intense that he declared, "I will be a naturalist." Once he was back in the United States, his first step in realizing this ambition was to deliver a series of lectures on natural science. These lectures formed the basis for his first publication, Nature (1836), and his writings ever after reflected his intense and continuing interest in science.Walls finds that Emerson matured just as the concept of "the two cultures" emerged, when the disciplines of literature and science were divorcing each other even as he called repeatedly for their marriage. Consequently, Walls writes, half of Emerson's thought has been invisible to us: science was central to Emerson, to his language, to the basic organization of his career. In Emerson's Life in Science, she makes the case that no study of literary history can be complete without embracing science as part of literature. Conversely, she maintains, no history of science is complete unless we consider the role played by writers of literature who helped to install science in the popular imagination.
Category: Literary Criticism

Views Of Nature

Author : Alexander von Humboldt
ISBN : IND:32000007480710
Genre : Botany
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Category: Botany

America S Darwin

Author : Tina Gianquitto
ISBN : 9780820344485
Genre : Literary Criticism
File Size : 38.55 MB
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"The 16 essays in this collection explore the distinctive qualities of America's textual engagement with Darwinism - the ways in which Darwinian language and theories have made their way into American Literary and cultural texts, providing writers a new vocabulary to describe human affairs and interactions with other living organisms. The editors argue that attention to the specifics of Darwin's place in the American scene is vital in light of the particularities of the reception and uses of evolutionary theory in the U.S. - i.e. the nation's melting pot identity, its slave past, its particular brands of social Darwinism, and its school of Pragmatist philosophy. In her review of the proposal, Laura Dassow Walls pointed out that one of the most exciting aspects of this project is that the editors and authors are reading a wide range of Darwin's own texts and thereby recovering the Darwin that Americans actually encountered, the more subtle and challenging Darwin who energized modernist American literature, not the Social Darwinist constructed by Herbert Spencer."--
Category: Literary Criticism

Chasing Venus

Author : Andrea Wulf
ISBN : 9780307700179
Genre : Science
File Size : 35.25 MB
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The award-winning author of The Brother Gardeners chronicles the 18th-century quest to observe the transit of Venus and measure the solar system, explaining the political strife and weather challenges that were overcome to enable an international team of astronomers to work together. 30,000 first printing.
Category: Science

Zoopoetics

Author : Aaron M. Moe
ISBN : 9780739186633
Genre : Literary Criticism
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Zoopoetics exposes the continuity of poiesis across human/animal spheres. It contributes new ways of seeing animals within the poetic tradition and beyond.
Category: Literary Criticism

Henry David Thoreau

Author : Laura Dassow Walls
ISBN : 9780226344720
Genre : Biography & Autobiography
File Size : 24.76 MB
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“Walden. Yesterday I came here to live.” That entry from the journal of Henry David Thoreau, and the intellectual journey it began, would by themselves be enough to place Thoreau in the American pantheon. His attempt to “live deliberately” in a small woods at the edge of his hometown of Concord has been a touchstone for individualists and seekers since the publication of Walden in 1854. But there was much more to Thoreau than his brief experiment in living at Walden Pond. A member of the vibrant intellectual circle centered on his neighbor Ralph Waldo Emerson, he was also an ardent naturalist, a manual laborer and inventor, a radical political activist, and more. Many books have taken up various aspects of Thoreau’s character and achievements, but, as Laura Dassow Walls writes, “Thoreau has never been captured between covers; he was too quixotic, mischievous, many-sided.” Two hundred years after his birth, and two generations after the last full-scale biography, Walls restores Henry David Thoreau to us in all his profound, inspiring complexity. Walls traces the full arc of Thoreau’s life, from his early days in the intellectual hothouse of Concord, when the American experiment still felt fresh and precarious, and “America was a family affair, earned by one generation and about to pass to the next.” By the time he died in 1862, at only forty-four years of age, Thoreau had witnessed the transformation of his world from a community of farmers and artisans into a bustling, interconnected commercial nation. What did that portend for the contemplative individual and abundant, wild nature that Thoreau celebrated? Drawing on Thoreau’s copious writings, published and unpublished, Walls presents a Thoreau vigorously alive in all his quirks and contradictions: the young man shattered by the sudden death of his brother; the ambitious Harvard College student; the ecstatic visionary who closed Walden with an account of the regenerative power of the Cosmos. We meet the man whose belief in human freedom and the value of labor made him an uncompromising abolitionist; the solitary walker who found society in nature, but also found his own nature in the society of which he was a deeply interwoven part. And, running through it all, Thoreau the passionate naturalist, who, long before the age of environmentalism, saw tragedy for future generations in the human heedlessness around him. “The Thoreau I sought was not in any book, so I wrote this one,” says Walls. The result is a Thoreau unlike any seen since he walked the streets of Concord, a Thoreau for our time and all time.
Category: Biography & Autobiography

Views Of Nature

Author : Alexander von Humboldt
ISBN : 9780226923192
Genre : Science
File Size : 85.19 MB
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While the influence of Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) looms large over the natural sciences, his legacy reaches far beyond the field notebooks of naturalists. Humboldt’s 1799–1804 research expedition to Central and South America with botanist Aimé Bonpland not only set the course for the great scientific surveys of the nineteenth century, but also served as the raw material for his many volumes—works of both scientific rigor and aesthetic beauty that inspired such essayists and artists as Emerson, Goethe, Thoreau, Poe, and Frederic Edwin Church. Views of Nature, or Ansichten der Natur, was Humboldt’s best-known and most influential work—and his personal favorite. While the essays that comprise it are themselves remarkable as innovative, early pieces of nature writing—they were cited by Thoreau as a model for his own work—the book’s extensive endnotes incorporate some of Humboldt’s most beautiful prose and mature thinking on vegetation structure, its origins in climate patterns, and its implications for the arts. Written for both a literary and a scientific audience, Views of Nature was translated into English (twice), Spanish, and French in the nineteenth century, and it was read widely in Europe and the Americas. But in contrast to many of Humboldt’s more technical works, Views of Nature has been unavailable in English for more than one hundred years. Largely neglected in the United States during the twentieth century, Humboldt’s contributions to the humanities and the sciences are now undergoing a revival to which this new translation will be a critical contribution.
Category: Science

Essay On The Geography Of Plants

Author : Alexander von Humboldt
ISBN : 9780226360683
Genre : Science
File Size : 41.40 MB
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The legacy of Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) looms large over the natural sciences. His 1799–1804 research expedition to Central and South America with botanist Aimé Bonpland set the course for the great scientific surveys of the nineteenth century, and inspired such essayists and artists as Emerson, Goethe, Thoreau, Poe, and Church. The chronicles of the expedition were published in Paris after Humboldt’s return, and first among them was the 1807 “Essay on the Geography of Plants.” Among the most cited writings in natural history, after the works of Darwin and Wallace, this work appears here for the first time in a complete English-language translation. Covering far more than its title implies, it represents the first articulation of an integrative “science of the earth, ” encompassing most of today’s environmental sciences. Ecologist Stephen T. Jackson introduces the treatise and explains its enduring significance two centuries after its publication.
Category: Science