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Curiosity: a Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry

by Benedict, Barbara M. A

  • ISBN: 9780226042633
  • ISBN10: 0226042634

Curiosity: a Cultural History of Early Modern Inquiry

by Benedict, Barbara M. A

  • List Price: $45.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/2001
  • ISBN: 9780226042633
  • ISBN10: 0226042634
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Description: What kind of person is curious? What makes a person or thing an object of curiosity? From Gulliver to Frankenstein, from detectives to hot air balloonists, curious and inquiring characters have been portrayed as themselves curiosities, as social upstarts, and as spectacles to behold. With Curiosity, Barbara Benedict offers a new cultural history of curiosity as it shaped English writing from the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries.

Drawing on novels both popular and obscure, ghost stories, travel narratives, trial transcripts, journalism, poems, and pornography, Benedict argues that writers of this period depicted curiosity an unsavory form of cultural ambition. Curiosity, we learn, was persistently seen as a kind of transgression that allowed curious people -- scientists, collectors, and prayers of all sorts -- to escape their natural places and usurp institutions, meanings, and bodies for private use.

Finely illustrated and the first of its kind, Curiosity is a broad study of modern inquiry that explores the way forbidden topics like the occult, sexuality, gender, and the origin of power became topics of public investigation.

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