The Poetics of Natural History:
From John Bartram to William James

Winner of the Literature and Language Award, Association of American Publishers, Inc., and of the American Studies Network Prize, 2000



The Poetics of Natural History is about the daydreams of early American naturalists (from 1730 to 1868) and the collections they created around these dreams. Christoph Irmscher explores how, through the acts of organizing physical artifacts and reflecting upon their collections in writings and images, naturalists from John Bartram to Louis Agassiz were making sense of themselves and their world. These collections allowed them, in a way, to collect themselves.