Curious Collectors, Collected Curiosities: An Interdisciplinary Study asks its readers to enter into an investigation of the nature of collecting as an aesthetic exercise. Spanning the sixteenth century through today, this book gathers together the work of current scholars to re-envision the task of collectors and their collections in broad strokes. Each chapter appropriates the idea of a cabinet of curiosity in order to expand its boundaries of meaning and to complicate our understanding of the acts of display and observation. These chapters also demonstrate that collecting is a universal trope which nevertheless depends on time and place for its particular expressions. Whether the collection is made up of literary texts and criticism, visual art, including mechanical reproductions, taxidermy and photography, historical travelogues, museum exhibitions, blockbuster films, or airline in-flight briefing cards, it conveys an urgent relevance to our consumer age, in which information is abundant and attention is a commodity.
Janelle A. Schwartz is Assistant Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Loyola University New Orleans. Her forthcoming book is on the relationship between aesthetics and entomological studies in the Romantic Age. Nhora Lucia Serrano is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include travel narratives, Visual Studies, and Medieval Studies. She is completing a book manuscript on visual images from illuminated manuscripts, illustrated texts to graphic narratives.