Thursday, November 03, 2005

Big beasts

Most memorable aspect of this week's PhD Government seminar? Clearly Erik Ringmar's analysis of giraffes and what they represented in the Chinese, European Renaissance and 19th century periods. All this was anecdotal observation before he entered into a study of what the appearance of giraffes - exotic and out of place everywhere except in east Africa - meant in terms of particular societies and their world view. In China's it arrival in the 1420s signified that all was well with the world and contrasted against another giraffe's appearance in Florence in the 1480s, when there was curiosity about what was going on in the world outside, while in 1820s France it was just something to place in the scientific schema.

OK, it's not really 'government', as Ringmar himself admitted. But it's fun nonetheless and along with the second week's analysis of American public policy through the medium of country music (don't ask!) and dangerous dogs legislation, the kind of thing I'd like to do one day - but maybe once I've got a doctorate...

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