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postmedieval

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 420–431 | Cite as

Vegetal continuity and the naming of species

  • Lara FarinaEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

This essay takes up Karen Houle’s suggestion that we address the ‘conceptual monoculture’ at work in the naming of plants (Houle, 2017, 158). While Houle’s work considers the linguistic hegemony exercised by modern botany, my focus is on premodern attempts to identify species of plants and ‘contain’ them in language. I argue that such a history is incomplete without considering the ways in which plants inscribed themselves in the cultural artifacts that record and represent them, particularly language-artifacts like words and books. In medieval herbals, encyclopedias, romances, and treatises, the vegetal often escaped its scientific, philosophic, and/or poetic locution, most notably by a tendency to mass and merge. Vegetal ‘inscription’ is here not vocalization per se (pace Marder, 2017, 115), but rather an effect on the form and content of human discourse.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

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