Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Poetry Foundation - 'Sciences'

The Poetry Foundation website has a wonderful collection of poems online under their 'Sciences' theme: take a look!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Recap - Entomological Adventures

Many thanks to everyone who came along and contributed to last night's discussion! Building on the previous meeting, we continued to talk about children's natural history books, and saw the academic year out in style with suitably entomological refreshments.

The introduction and subsequent conversation touched on many crucial themes for literature and science scholarship, from anecdote, antagonists, and autobiography, to childhood and colonialism, objectivity and observation, changes of scale and moments of wonder. We thought about these works in relation to the contemporary rise of Nature Study in Britain and American, situating the pond-dipping anecdotes of Fabre, in particular, against attempts to teach children through 'Nature, not books', and against other attempts such as the Boy Scout movement to engage young groups with their surrounding worlds. We considered Fabre's work as a nostalgic piece of writing, looking back on his earliest natural historical experiences, and characteristic of his particular blend of the personal and informal with the scientifically-specific, as - for instance - when he pulled focus at the end of the 'pond' chapter to consider the planet as a whole. What connections could we draw, we wondered, to the development of ecological and ethological sciences? We also analysed Madalene and Louisa as a work of the 1980s, looking back at the Victorian period: its connections to nineteenth-century domestic practices of watercolours, scapbooks, and Brontesque juvenilia, as well as to comic journalism and - back in the twentieth century - graphic novels; the surprising, perhaps, subversion of the received view of dour Victorian childhood.

Many thanks to Daniel for alerting us to the existence of Maya the bee and her own Adventures: there is a 1922 English translation (with beautiful illustrations) available here.

See below for some photos of the group in action, of some of the texts we looked at, and - of course - of the creepy-crawly catering.