Utopias Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-12-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
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The royal Parisian botanical garden, the Jardin du Roi, was a jewel in the crown of the French Old Regime, praised by both rulers and scientific practitioners. Yet unlike many such institutions, the Jardin not only survived the French Revolution but by 1800 had become the world's leading public establishment of natural history: the Museacute;um d'Histoire Naturelle. E. C. Spary traces the scientific, administrative, and political strategies that enabled the foundation of the Museacute;um, arguing that agriculture and animal breeding rank alongside classification and collections in explaining why natural history was important for French rulers. But the Museacute;um's success was also a consequence of its employees' Revolutionary rhetoric: by displaying the natural order, they suggested, the institution could assist in fashioning a self-educating, self-policing Republican people. Natural history was presented as an indispensable source of national prosperity and individual virtue. Spary's fascinating account opens a new chapter in the history of France, science, and the Enlightenment.

Author Biography

E. C. Spary is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin, Germany. She is coeditor of Cultures of Natural History.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments xi
List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1(14)
The Place of Histoire naturelle at the Jardin du Roi
Acting at a Distance: Andre Thouin and the Function of Botanical Networks
Naturalizing the Tree of Liberty: Generation, Degeneration, and Regeneration in the Jardin du Roi
Patronage, Community, and Power: Strategies of Self-Presentation in New Regimes
The Spectacle of Nature: The Museum d'Histoire Naturelle and the Jacobins
Conclusion: Possible Futures
Appendix 259(4)
Bibliography 263(48)
Index 311

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