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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book Early Modern Zoology: The Construction of Animals in Science, Literature and the Visual Arts, which offers a glimpse of the intriguing variety of discourses on animals among early modern scientists, writers and artists. Most studies of animals in early modern literature and the visual arts tend to foreground the symbolic significance of the animals represented, neglecting somehow their zoological reality or their natural-historical conceptualisation. The book shows that the subject of the de- and re-construction of the animal from natural history to the field of the arts is highly problematic. Indeed, literature and painting are so much closely connected with zoology that it is often impossible to arrive at a clear-cut distinction between the fields. The examples presented in the book show us how important it is to study in detail the interconnections between watercolours, engravings and zoological texts.

Keywords: animals; early modern zoology; literature; science; visual arts



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