Rudwick and Geohistory

I’ve mentioned Martin Rudwick’s work before, in the context of his Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution and his Worlds before Adam: the Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform. He is perhaps worth another mention given the discussion I started on the history of geography. Rudwick has posts as an emeritus at San Diego and is affiliated to Cambridge. He was a palaeontologist who reinvented himself as a historian (his own description in Worlds Before Adam, p. 555).  There is a brief overview of his career and contribution here.

Rudwick seems to me to be interested in not simply the history of ideas, in a very abstract sense, but the history of practices. He’s good with primary sources – both written and illustrative. I’ve scanned several images from his books for my ‘Fossils’ lecture. There is an interesting interview with him here.

Bursting the Limits of Time and Worlds Before Adam are both terrific, and probably his best. They are both pretty forbidding though. His earlier The Meaning of Fossils covers some of the same ground but is rather shorter. But I’d also mention Georges Cuvier, Fossil Bones and Geological Catastrophes, which includes translations of many of Cuvier’s papers, plenty of illustrations, and interpretations. Cuvier has become quite important to the story I’m trying to trace, and Rudwick’s work was very helpful.

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