Art and Natural History: the case of Maria Sibylla Merian

Directions for Writing the Paper

Your paper should be at least 8-10 pages long, double-spaced. The paper should include, in order:
(1) title page
(2) main body of the paper with numbered pages
(3) end notes,
(4) bibliography or works cited, and
(5) numbered illustrations (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, and so on).
I have no set number of secondary sources that I expect to see, but certainly you will want to explore at least several so that you are not completely bound to the ideas of one author.

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You must use serious scholarly sources, not Wikipedia or other anonymous internet sources:
You may employ internet databases such as JSTOR, jhna.org, or the Search function on the library website, which will sometimes conjure up online-accessible books and articles.
Use the Chicago style for citations, with superscripted numbers that refer to the endnotes (and no author’s name in the main body of the text as in the MLA format).

In the paper, refer to illustrations in something like the following manner “…in Rembrandt’s Nightwatch, dated 1642 (Fig. 4), the artist painted…” You must provide illustrations of all works that you discuss. Captions for the illustrations should include name of artist, subject of work, medium, dimensions, and location or collection.
Your paper should be organized as follows:
first, a clear introductory paragraph that culminates in a thesis sentence that encapsulates your argument. The succeeding paragraphs will then develop this thesis with evidence and reasoned analysis—either yours or that of your primary or secondary sources. Think critically about those sources and their arguments, and feel free to take issue with them when you disagree. I would suggest that your papers investigate the meaning of works of art in a historical and cultural context: this may concern aspects of iconography and/or style. End your paper with a concluding paragraph that sums up your main points and reminds your readers how you have made your argument. You may also highlight aspects of your subject that invite further study.
The following subject areas (as I would describe most of them) are starting points for paper topics: there are possibilities for multiple topics within each bibliography, and once you pick out a topic, you need not necessarily read everything that I have listed in the initial bibliography. And you may want to search for additional sources in JSTOR, etc. Excepting those that already concern only one or a small number of images, however, many of these topics or subject areas as I have given them will require you to think further about how to limit and refine the focus of your paper. Your paper should not be a book report that summarizes the argument of one author, nor should it be an overly broad discussion of a large number of images. Do not waste space in your paper on biographical information about your artist or artists that does not bear directly on the works at hand: Your paper should focus on close looking and analysis of specific works of art, interpreting them within the context of their own culture and time. For most topics, consider how you might choose ONE, or a small number, of works of art as illustrative of broader themes. This way, you will have the chance to go into some analytical depth with regard to specific images. You may also think up our own topic, with my approval. One place to start would be to look through the Westermann book and think about what artists, types of works or subjects, and interpretive issues, interest you and then search on JSTOR to see what you can find.

 

MY TOPIC:

Art and Natural History: the case of Maria Sibylla Merian
On the study of natural history in the early modern period, see Brian W. Ogilvie, The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe, Chicago, 2008 [UH Online].
On flowers and Dutch horticulture see Andrew Gebhardt, “Early Dutch Horticulture.” in Holland Flowering: How the Dutch Flower Industry Conquered the World, by Andrew Gebhardt, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2014, pp. 45–86. [JSTOR]. On Merian, see: Tomomi Kinukawa, “Science and Whiteness as Property in the Dutch Atlantic World: Maria Sibylla Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamsensium (1705)” Journal of women’s history, 2012, vol. 24 (3), pp. 91-116. [UH Online]; Tomomi Kinukawa, “Art competes with nature: Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) and the culture of natural history,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2001. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing [UH Online]; A. C. Montoya and R. Jagersma, “Marketing Maria Sibylla Merian, 1720-1800. Book Auctions, Gender, and Reading Culture in the Dutch Republic”, Book history, 2018, vol. 21 (1), pp. 56-88. [UH Online]; Stephanie Schrader, Nancy Turner, Nancy Yocco, “Naturalism under the Microscope: A Technical Study of Maria Sibylla Merian’s ‘Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam’”, Getty research journal, 2012-01-01, vol. 4 (4), pp. 161-17

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