Models and Metaphors Orchids and Primroses


Models and Metaphors, Orchids and Primroses: When, Why and How is a Person like a Plant

Founder's Day 2014

18:00 Tuesday 2nd December 2014


For as long as we have been thinking about who and what we are, humans have sought for appropriate points of comparison, whether real or imaginary, with which to compare ourselves. Are we animals who can think, machines who can feel, or just a little lower than the angels? Plants seldom joined the list of metaphors until the nineteenth century, when Charles Darwin began growing flowers, in part in order to understand whether he had been wise to marry his cousin. Over the next hundred years, plants became increasingly important as model organisms for laboratory research, but they also escaped the laboratory into the public’s imagination. In the early twentieth century, evening primroses were serving as models for Jewishness, revolutionary socialism and feminist utopias. Focussing on the curious intersections between scientific understandings and cultural meanings of flowers, Jim Endersby will link orchids and primroses into an examination of how and why plants have been imagined to be like persons.

This meeting is free and open to all; registration is not necessary.

Tea and coffee will be served in the Library from 17:30 and a wine reception will follow.

Image (c) Sasata

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