Warning: This episode contains frank discussions of human anatomy and some violence.
Ever wondered why wonder is so important in science? We’re taught from an early edge that science is a world of wonder, and encouraged to indulge our natural curiosity as a first step to achieving scientific rationality. Today, we’ll investigate the fascinating history of wonder, including times when wonder was not in fashion and times when it led grown men to kick old women in the stomach. (Yes, you will need to listen to find what that refers to.)
Guest voice: Many thanks to Tim Ralphs of the Room Behind the Bookcase podcast for playing Ambroise Paré.
For further reading:
- Believer magazine (May 2006) interview with philosopher Arnold Davidson on monsters and monstrosities. (Thanks to Ben Cohen at the World’s Fair blog for the link.)
- Mary Baine Campbell, Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe (Cornell UP, 2004).
- Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonder and the Orders of Nature, 1150-1750 (Zone Books, 2001).
- Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (University of Chicago Press, 1992).
- G. E. R. Lloyd, The Ambitions of Curiosity: Understanding the World in Ancient Greece and China (Cambridge UP, 2002).
- Fred Nadis, Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America (Rutgers UP, 2005).
- Ambroise Paré, On Monsters and Marvels, trans. Janis L. Pallister (originally published ; University of Chicago Press, 1982).
- Susan Scott Parrish, American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
- Brian Regal, “Amateur vs. Professional: The Search for Bigfoot,” Endeavour 32, no. 2 (2008): 53-57.
- Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, eds., Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe (Routledge, 2001).
- Roger Shattuck, Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography (St. Martin’s Press, 1996).
- Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology (Vintage, 1996).
On the shelf:
- Nicolas Rasmussen, On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (NYU Press, 2008).
- If you liked this episode and ever have the occasion to visit my hometown of Austin, Texas, do make sure to visit our fair city’s amazing Museum of Natural and Artificial Ephemerata.
All music on this program courtesy of the Podsafe Music Network, except where noted.
- Sunburn in Cyprus, History (intro & outro)
- Happy Gemini 3, Pondering the 10th Planet (transitions)
- during first segment:
- after first segment: emma, Alice in Wonderland
- sound effects courtesy of the FreeSound Project:
- Champagne cork and pour
- Party chatter
- Auld Lang Syne
- Record scratch
- Pendulum clock
- Horse cart
- Jardin des plantes
- Dordogne river