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The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing (Animalibus: Of Animals and Cultures)

The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing (Animalibus: Of Animals and Cultures) [Kindle Edition]

Rachel Poliquin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


With The Breathless Zoo, Rachel Poliquin has made a major contribution to the blossoming field of animal studies. This book is the new benchmark on the place of taxidermy in the social history of art, science, and popular culture. Marvelous, rigorous, and extensively well researched, the work is also refreshingly pleasurable to read. Throughout, Poliquin explores the complex questions around the rich cultural texture of taxidermy. And unlike other works on the topic, The Breathless Zoo examines not only what taxidermy is but also what it means. For those of us engaged in thinking about animals, this is the book on the culture of taxidermy we have long awaited a book of great innovation that slices through the history of science, blood sports, and art. --Mark Dion, artist

The Breathless Zoo is an intriguing and poetic meditation on an unlikely subject: stuffed animals in European museums that seem so familiar and so intellectually musty. Rachel Poliquin teases out of them not just a typological order but also a human longing for beauty and wonder, story and allegory. In the dead specimens she finds immortality; in their stasis, movement across the world. The result is a rich panorama of human ideas and desires. --Marina Belozerskaya, author of The Medici Giraffe

I have long been a fan of Rachel Poliquin's otherworldly online museum,, but after reading The Breathless Zoo I know just what she means when she says that all taxidermy, like storytelling, is deeply marked by human longing. I am already longing to read The Breathless Zoo again. --Jay Kirk, University of Pennsylvania

Product Description

From sixteenth-century cabinets of wonders to contemporary animal art, The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing examines the cultural and poetic history of preserving animals in lively postures. But why would anyone want to preserve an animal, and what is this animal-thing now? Rachel Poliquin suggests that taxidermy is entwined with the enduring human longing to find meaning with and within the natural world. Her study draws out the longings at the heart of taxidermy—the longing for wonder, beauty, spectacle, order, narrative, allegory, and remembrance. In so doing, The Breathless Zoo explores the animal spectacles desired by particular communities, human assumptions of superiority, the yearnings for hidden truths within animal form, and the loneliness and longing that haunt our strange human existence, being both within and apart from nature.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3141 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press (1 Aug 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #640,632 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great book 20 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
nice quality book, well produced, feels nice to hold, nice paper quality, good book for my research although i had hoped for a few more pictures and a bit more critical thinking
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive 4 Feb 2013
By mae.mae - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Finally - a history of taxidermy that looks deep into meaning and contextualizes what these objects meant and mean now.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary phenomenon in historical context 7 Jun 2013
By Professor Catmom - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Poliquin deftly details the cultural meanings of taxidermy in its many genres, from natural history museum artifact to hunting trophy to rogue art object. This richly illustrated book, first in Penn State Press's series Animalibus: Of Animals and Cultures, would appeal to art historians, cultural anthropologists, and those interested in animal representation. The "cultures of longing" in question here include the role taxidermy has played in creating wonder, spectacle, narratives, and memorials to the natural world. What Poliquin does best here is show how taxidermy, while contributing to these and other cultures of longing, cannot quite fulfill our longing to look at real animals, either dead or alive, because a taxidermied animal is, paradoxically, a bit of both, and at the same time, neither. My only complaint with Poliquin's work is that she doesn't sufficiently consider the distinct longing we experience in looking at taxidermies of extinct animals.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book 22 May 2013
By coffee please - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of taxidermy, or rogue taxidermy art then this book is one for your collection. Really lovely collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, comprehensive study of taxidermy 6 May 2013
By lulu - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Short n' sweet-I LOVE taxidermy(in all of its MANY art forms), and this book is absolutely fascinating. A must have for everyone from the collector-to the artist.
5.0 out of 5 stars Just opened it up... 24 Jun 2014
By R. Elias - Published on
...and already it is awesome. Intelligent. Insightful. Artful. The second best read on taxidermy after Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom.
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