Swallowing the evidence: William Bartram and the limits of enlightenment

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Abstract

In 1773 naturalist William Bartram left his native Philadelphia for an extended period of travel and specimen-collecting in the Deep South. The drawings and writings that resulted from that journey not only record the flora and fauna of the region but also mark the absences Bartram encountered in nature. While previous discussions of Bartram's work have focused on the strategies through which the Enlightenment naturalist rendered the natural world visible to his viewers and readers, this essay considers what Bartram withholds from vision. It is concerned with the limits of Bartram's natural history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalWinterthur Portfolio
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes

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