Paradigm, No. 18 (December, 1995)
Colin Finney Paradise Revealed: Natural History in Nineteenth-century Australia (Melbourne: Museum of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000 Australia
Reviewed by John Issitt
This is a useful and interesting book which contains a chapter particularly relevant to members of the Colloquium. Chapter 8, 'Natural history in schools and colleges', considers the delivery and reception of natural history in social and educational settings, and charts the progress of natural history texts targeted at children, through the second half of the nineteenth century in Australia. Finney skillfully orients the complex cultural geography that confronts any serious student with clarity and sense of location. He maps natural history texts both as an independent genre, and against related natural philosophical and literary genres. He considers school, pedagogic, colonial, popular, interdisciplinary, disciplinary evolution and social contexts as he develops his account. Overall, a thoroughly useful source (containing an extensive bibliography) and a well written contribution to our knowledge of textbooks.