Wordpress Themes

Archive for the ‘Victoriana’ Category

Museums and microscopes

Posted by Stephen Johnston on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

A review of Lynn L. Merrill, The Romance of Victorian Natural History (Oxford, 1989), picks out the chapter on museums and microscopes as the most striking:

‘The cabinet, which Merrill classifies as a “small-scale museum”, and the microscope become metaphors for ways of looking at nature, since both make an exhibit out of nature. Both the objects in a museum and those under a microscope emphasize particularity, but this particularity also suggests panorama. The cabinet’s panorama consists in the meaning created by the juxtaposition of objects. Even the choice of specimens and their framing in a restricted area creates a new little world which reverberates with possibilities of the larger world. The microscope also presents a new world whose panorama is revealed within the world opened up by the lens. With the physical eye catered to by the microscope (this instrument became comparatively inexpensive by 1830), and the ever-increasing number of museums, no wonder the imaginative eye of Victorian writers became enamored with natural history.’

Martha Westwater, Modern Philology, 88 (1990), pp. 215-218

The Laboratory and the Fairground

Posted by Laura Ashby on Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

I’ve just been very struck by this:“In Evenings at the Microscope he [Gosse] wrote: ‘like the work of some mighty genie of Oriental fable, the brazen tube is the key that unlocks a world of wonder and beauty before invisible, which one who has once gazed upon it can never forget’. This was the language of the laboratory leaning on the language of the fairground.”

Marina Benjamin, ‘Sliding Scales: Microphotography and the Victorian Obsession with the Minuscule’, in Francis Spufford and Jenny Uglow (eds), Cultural Babbage: Technology, Time and Invention, London: Faber and Faber, 1997, pp. 99–122.

quoting

Philip Henry Gosse, ‘Evenings at the Microscope’ London: SPCK, 1877.

Navigation

Search

Archives

May 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Other

Syndication