"Teratology" is the big word in my class this week. We're focused on early-modern monsters. The term "monsters" is used very loosely to include anomalous flora, fauna, humans, and other worldly beasts. The ones that fascinate me most are the many creatures--part human, part other--that populate travel writings from Marco Polo to Mandeville; medical writings by Liceti and Pare; popular broadsides; and, of course, fairy tales.
Miss Piggy from Manchester Square up here delights the eyes and tickles the imagination. But I did have to chuckle awhile back at the publicity for one of my talks. Friends, I can tell you that I look nothing like her. She's much more sophisticated than I will ever be--and dresses much better to boot!
For those craving more: The most impressive book on early-modern monsters and marvels has to be Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park's Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750. Jan Bondeson's books come in close second. Who knew that there were people who can spontaneously combust or that, still now, there are people who are born with tail-like appendages? A doctor and a sleuth extraordinare, Bondeson is on the case.
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