Vacancies: Two PhD’s Ichthyology, Leiden University
PhD Enlightened Fish Books: A New History of Eighteenth-Century Ichthyology (1686-1828)
The PhD student will work within a research programme funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): A New History of Fishes. A long-term approach to fishes in science and culture, 1550-1880, supervised by Professor Paul J. Smith (LUCAS).
Ichthyology changed in important ways during the Enlightenment. This PhD project investigates these changes by applying two complementary approaches, the first text-oriented (A), the second context-oriented (B).
(A) Cuvier (1828) distinguished four important phases in ichthyology in the period 1680-1800: (1) the “methodical” ichthyology of Willughby and Ray (1686); (2) the “systematic” ichthyology of Artedi and Linnaeus (1738); (3) the illustrated work of Bloch (1782-84); and (4) the work of Lacepède (1789-1803), collaborator of Buffon. These four major phases will serve as starting points for a text-oriented analysis of the four following topics, covering the whole period: (a) dissection (starting point Willughby/Ray), (b) classification (Artedi/Linnaeus, before and after), (c) illustration policies (Bloch), and (d) descriptive rhetorics (Buffon and his collaborators on style in description).
(B) In spite of deeply rooted continuities, Enlightenment natural sciences were gradually influenced by the change from a patronage society to institutionalisation. This was the age of national academies and learned societies: the British Royal Society, the French Académie des Sciences and the Jardin du Roi, which in 1793 was transformed into the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle. Institutionalisation also manifested itself in the organisation of prestigious research expeditions outside Europe. These state-financed expeditions were part and parcel of the colonial enterprise of European states. The impact of these changes on Enlightenment ichthyology will be analysed in line with a context-oriented approach.
Deadline for application: 15 April 2015
PhD Collection Building: Ichthyology in the Netherlands during the Nineteenth-Century (1760-1880)
The PhD student will work within a research programme funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO): A New History of Fishes. A long-term approach to fishes in science and culture, 1550-1880, supervised by Professor Paul J. Smith (LUCAS). This PhD subproject is co-funded by Naturalis Biodiversity Center and LUCAS.
This PhD project focuses on two principal themes.
1) Innovation and tradition in ichthyology in the Netherlands during the ‘long’ 19th century.
The three key figures of Dutch 19th-century ichthyology were Houttuyn (1720-1798), Schlegel (1804-1884) and Bleeker (1819-1878). The subproject investigates the continued value of tradition by investigating to what extent these key figures continued referring to and relying on (in text and image) historical fish books of the 18th, 17th or even 16th centuries. Classification in Dutch 19th-century ichthyology was based on Linnaeus (1758). Did dissection and anatomical investigations clash or co-exist with reliance on earlier sources and classifications (including Linnaeus’)? What was the role and extent of standardisation in illustration and description? Illustration policies of the various authors suggest that standardisation of both description and illustration, as well as a subtle interplay between text and image, were more important where newly discovered species were concerned (e.g. in the Fauna Japonica and Bleeker’s Atlas Ichtyologique) than for the already known species.
2) The formation of ichthyological collections and the role of Dutch colonial policy.
During the 19th century, both private collections and the collections of public museums were crucially important to the development of ichthyology in the Netherlands. The focus here is on the creation of the ’s Rijks Museum van Natuurlijke Historie (RMNH), now Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and in particular on the role, place and composition of its ichthyological material. In the Netherlands, as in the neighbouring countries, state-financed expeditions contributed in a major way to the formation of national natural-historical collections. The “Natuurkundige Commissie voor Nederlandsch-Indië” (created in 1820) had the specific task of organising collecting expeditions in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), in order to increase the collections of RMNH. In the investigation of the formation of Dutch ichthyological collections during the 19th century, special attention will be paid to the intertwining of scientific and political interests, using archival sources that have as yet been underexplored, in particular the reports of the Natuurkundige Commissie.
Deadline for application: 15 June 2015