Skip to main content Accessibility help
Worlds of Natural History
  • Cited by 12
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

From Aztec accounts of hibernating hummingbirds to contemporary television spectaculars, human encounters with nature have long sparked wonder, curiosity and delight. Written by leading scholars, this richly illustrated volume offers a lively introduction to the history of natural history, from the sixteenth century to the present day. Covering an extraordinary range of topics, from curiosity cabinets and travelling menageries to modern seed banks and radio-tracked wildlife, this volume draws together the work of historians of science, of environment and of art, museum curators and literary scholars. The essays are framed by an introduction charting recent trends in the field and an epilogue outlining the prospects for the future. Accessible to newcomers and established specialists alike, Worlds of Natural History provides a much-needed perspective on current discussions of biodiversity and an enticing overview of an increasingly vital aspect of human history.


‘This massive, comprehensive, and extremely rich collection of essays features a stellar cast of contributors who have created a worthy sequel to Cultures of Natural History. From its elegant introduction to its colorful chapters and provocative afterword on the continuing vitality of natural history in the twenty-first century, this book fascinates and instructs. Dazzled by its contents, readers will have a difficult time deciding which compartment in this cabinet of curiosities to open first. This is scholarship in the history of science at its finest.'

Bernard Lightman - Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, President of the History of Science Society, and York University

‘This volume offers a cornucopia of new approaches to writing the history of natural history from the Renaissance to today. With attention to shifting epistemologies and material cultures, it situates ancient traditions of collecting, classifying, and preserving nature in relation to the modern biological and earth sciences. In our present era of vanishing biological diversity, the authors consider the lessons of the past for the future of both elite and popular scientific institutions, from seed banks to museums and zoos.'

Deborah R. Coen - Yale University, Connecticut

‘Worlds of Natural History comes as close as is humanly possible to living up to its title. The essays illuminate almost every aspect of the vast enterprise of natural history, from collecting, networking, and voyaging to preserving, image-making, and classifying. Its sites are as various as the Renaissance apothecary's shop and the contemporary genetics lab; its locales criss-cross the globe. This book crystallizes decades of historical scholarship, and is the single best introduction to the topic.'

Lorraine Daston - Director, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

'… a rich snapshot of the current trends.'

Aaron Van Neste Source: Annals of Science

'The individual scholarly standards are matched by Cambridge University Press's production values and combine to make this volume testimony to the continuing vibrancy of natural history and its historical explication.'

W. F. Bynum Source: Times Literary Supplement

‘… the essays collected here bring us closer to an understanding of how historians of science gain insights through trying to expand their perspectives, and search for continuities between the past and the present. This volume should become essential reading for both historians of science and all scholars keen to keep abreast of general historical debates about the environment, technology, globalisation, empire and exchange.’

Sooyoung An Source: East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Save to Kindle
  • Save to Dropbox
  • Save to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.


Page 1 of 2

  • 1 - Visions of ancient natural history
    pp 17-32
  • 6 - Making monsters
    pp 94-111

Page 1 of 2


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.