"The whalers' natural history and natural historians' whales"
Abstract: The paper uses the iconoclasm of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick as a point of departure to examine four types of images that deal with the problem of representing whales pictorially. I hope to show how the practical knowledge of whalers came to be inscribed in the work of natural historians, and that, although driven by allegedly ‘base’ (read: economic) motives, practical knowledge was essential to natural history. As will come apparent, Melville’s juxtaposition of theoretical and practical knowledge in literature runs parallel to a kind of scientific boundary work that lies at the core of the dichotomy of practical and theoretical knowledge.
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