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Institute of Archaeology

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Elaine Charwat

Nature of replication: Natural History Museums & the circulation of casts and models

Elaine Charwat



Email: elaine.charwat.18@ucl.ac.uk

Section: Heritage Studies


Supervisors:

Profile

Models in natural history - and in this I include casts and reproductions - are what the Germans call "Wissensdinge", objects that contain, distribute and generate knowledge; they attempt to make the invisible visible, the hard-to-grasp tangible. They are made from a vast array of materials with often astonishing skill and technologies. They represent what we know about a particular organism at a certain point in time. They have a history, a context, with regard to collecting, display, manufacture, design and science communication. How were models being produced, what "data" went into them and where did it come from? What materials were being used and why? How were these models marketed, sold, shipped and distributed? What did a demand for them signify? Also, what is a "model" individual, a representative of its kind?

"Wissensdinge" pose questions and lead to answers. They are products of knowledge, and generate knowledge through various processes of production, circulation, collecting, teaching, presenting and engaging. To trace the complex map of such relationships, especially in a German-British context, will be the topic of the AHRC-funded, collaborative and interdisciplinary PhD project "Nature of Replication" I am undertaking, jointly supervised by the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

It is anticipated that the evidence presented by this research project will influence museums and collections to re-evaluate their holdings of natural sciences models, their three-dimensional ephemera.

Its main outcome will be to propose a practical roadmap towards a more informed practice of context, visibility and access for these often neglected objects, thereby enabling and stimulating further research in specific areas - one of the key functions of natural sciences museums today.

Funding

AHRC CDP

Education

    • MA, English Literature, Intercultural Communication, Social Psychology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University (Munich, Germany), 2001
    • MSc, Information Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University, 2006
    Publications

    Forthcoming:

    Charwat, E. (2018), "Heading North - the extraordinary diary of Frank Edwards. Part 2", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 40

    Charwat, E. (2019), "'Useful clever pets' - The albums of Albert Karl Ludwig Gotthilf Günther", in: Treasures of the Linnean Society (London) [in progress]

    Past publications:

    Charwat, E. (2018), "Heading North - the extraordinary diary of Frank Edwards. Part 1", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 39

    Charwat, E. & Seaward, L. (2018), "If you teach a computer to Read", Update (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, ISSN 2046-0406), December 2017/January 2018

    Charwat, E. & Böhme, K. (2016), "Karl von Linné: Natursystem und Vermächtnis", Bibliotheksmagazin: Mitteilungen aus den Staatsbibliotheken in Berlin und München (ISSN 1861-8375)

    Charwat, E. (2016), "The nature of the beast", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 32

    Charwat, E. (2016), "Opening up archives and enabling research: handwritten text recognition as the final frontier", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 29

    Charwat, E. (2015), "From migration to extinction: the journey of Ectopistes migratorius, the passenger pigeon", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 26

    Charwat, E., Charmantier, I., Kennett, T. (2015), "Science, sex and poetry", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 25

    Charwat, E. (2014), "A.R. Wallace and the cockatoo conundrum", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 22

    Charwat, E. (2013), "Our iron library: a secret gem of Victorian engineering", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 18

    Charwat, E., Charmantier, I., Müller-Wille, S. (2013), "Virtual Linnaeus: digitising the Linnaean manuscripts", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 18

    Charwat, E. (2013), "'God created, Linnaeus ordered' - and Linnaeus Link delivers", Update (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, ISSN 2046-0406). August 2013

    Charwat, E. (2012), "A Linnaean thanksgiving: welcome to the new Linnaeus Link", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 16

    Charwat, E. (2011), "Linnaeus and alcohol", PuLSe (The Linnean Society of London, ISSN 1759-8036), Issue 12

    Conference papers

    (2018) "The island as the origin of all species", Lunchtime Lecture, The Linnean Society of London

    (2017) "The island", Guest speaker, ØY Festival of Islands, Papay (Orkney)

    (2016) "An audience with the Linnean Society", University of London, DART podcast [https://dart.blogs.ulcc.ac.uk/2016/02/02/an-audience-with-the-linnean-so...

    (2015) "From Chaos to Cosmos: Carl Linnaeus meets Joseph Cornell", Evening talk, The Royal Academy of Arts, London

    (2015) "Linnaeus Created - And the Internet will sort it out? A New (?) Strategy for the Linnean Society's Online Collections", Conference talk ("From cabinet to internet: digitising natural history and medical manuscripts", The Linnean Society of London)