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Parlor Ponds: The Cultural Work of the American Home Aquarium, 1850–1970 examines the myriad cultural meanings of the American home aquarium during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and argues that the home aquarium provided its enthusiasts with a potent tool for managing the challenges of historical change, from urbanization to globalization. The tank could be a window to an alien world, a theater for domestic melodrama, or a vehicle in a fantastical undersea journey. Its residents were seen as inscrutable and wholly disposable “its,” as deeply loved and charismatic individuals, and as alter egos by aquarists themselves.

Parlor Ponds fills a gap in the growing field of animal studies by showing that the tank is an emblematic product of modernity, one using elements of exploration, technology, science, and a commitment to rigorous observation to contain anxieties spawned by industrialization, urbanization, changing gender roles, and imperial entanglements. Judith Hamera engages advertisements, images, memoirs, public aquarium programs, and enthusiast publications to show how the history of the aquarium illuminates complex cultural attitudes toward nature and domestication, science and religion, gender and alterity, and national conquest and environmental stewardship with an emphasis on the ways it illuminates American public discourse on colonial and postcolonial expansion.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. Chapter 1: Promiscuous Vision: The Visual Affinities of the Home Aquarium
  2. pp. 15-49
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  1. Chapter 2: Rural Rambles and Rustic Adornments: Early British Aquarium Writing
  2. pp. 50-83
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  1. Chapter 3: The Toy of the Day: American Aquarium Writing, 1850–1915
  2. pp. 84-124
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  1. Chapter 4: Toy Fish
  2. pp. 125-158
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  1. Chapter 5: The Domestic Aquarium
  2. pp. 159-192
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  1. Chapter 6: “Foreign in the Domestic Sense”: Tropical Fish and the Transnational Aquarium
  2. pp. 193-218
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  1. Conclusion: Reefer Madness
  2. pp. 219-226
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 227-263
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 265-268
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Additional Information

ISBN
9780472028108
Related ISBN(s)
9780472051663, 9780472071661
MARC Record
OCLC
779881333
Pages
280
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No

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