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, ravishingbeast.com, 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
About the Author
Rachel Poliquin is a writer and curator engaged with the cultural and poetic history of the natural world. She has curated taxidermy exhibits for the Museum of Vancouver and the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia. Poliquin is the author of ravishingbeasts.com, a website dedicated to exploring the cultural history of taxidermy.