The concept of eccentricity was central to how people in the nineteenth century understood their world. This monograph is the first scholarly history of eccentricity. Carroll explores how discourses of eccentricity were established to make sense of individuals who did not seem to fit within an increasingly organized social and economic order. She focuses on the self-taught natural philosopher William Martin, the fossilist Thomas Hawkins and the taxidermist Charles Waterton.
Table of ContentsCover Half Title Title Copyright Contents Acknowledgements List of Illustrations Introduction 1. Defining Eccentricity in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain Eccentricity, Prophecy and the 'Spirit of the Age' Eccentric Biography: The Emergence of a Genre Challenging Boundaries Eccentricity, Gender and 'Separate Spheres' Lawlessness, Genius and the Cultivation of Eccentricity 2. Performers, Audiences and Eccentric Identities: William Martin and the World turned Upside Down William Martin, Natural Philosopher, Prophet and Poet The Lecturer and his Audiences The Martinian Philosophy in Context: Anti-Newtonian and Millenarian Traditions Science, Carnival and the Politics of Eccentricity 3. 'Beyond the Pale of Ordinary Criticism': Literary Eccentricity and the Fossil Books of Thomas Hawkins Collecting Sea-Dragons Anatomy and Genre Mixing Genres Genesis, Geology and the Perils of 'Enthusiasm' 4. Eccentricity on Display: Visiting Charles Waterton, Traveller, Naturalist and Celebrity Visiting Walton Hall: Expectations and Surprises Waterton's Taxidermy: Lifelike Wonders and Monstrous Hybrids Reading Stories, Reading Specimens The Eccentric Naturalist as Specimen and Celebrity Conclusion Notes Works Cited Index