© 2017

Introduction to the Study of Natural History

Edited and Annotated by Christoph Irmscher

  • Christoph Irmscher
  • Provides a scholarly and insightful analysis of the intentions and beliefs of Louis Agassiz

  • Discusses the implications of Louis Agassiz's papers on today's research

  • Includes facsimile of original print of Louis Agassiz's lectures

  • Over 100 black-and-white engravings illustrating plants and animals

  • Extensively commented and annotated by the Editor


Part of the Classic Texts in the Sciences book series (CTS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Louis Agassiz
    Pages 1-22
  3. Louis Agassiz
    Pages 83-114
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 115-126

About this book


This book features Louis Agassiz’s seminal lecture course in which the Swiss-American scientist, a self-styled “American Humboldt,” summarized the state of zoological knowledge in his time. Though Darwin’s theory of evolution would soon dismantle his idealist science, Agassiz’s lectures are nonetheless modern in their insistence on the social and cultural importance of the scientific enterprise.

An extensive, well-illustrated introduction by Agassiz’s biographer, Christoph Irmscher, situates Agassiz’s lectures in the context of his life and nineteenth-century science, while also confronting the deeply problematic aspects of his legacy. Profusely annotated, this edition offers fascinating insights into the history of science and appeals to anyone with an interest in zoology and natural history.

“Christoph Irmscher provides a scholarly and insightful analysis of the intentions and beliefs of Louis Agassiz, a larger-than-life scientist of the mid-19th century and fierce opponent of Charles Darwin.  One of the foremost naturalists of his time, Agassiz’s encyclopedic knowledge and brash confidence sustained bold and often controversial theories, which contributed to extreme intellectual ferment at the dawn of contemporary evolutionary biology.”  James Hanken, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Harvard University, USA


agassiz lectures history natural sciences plants animals engravings invertebrate zoology scientific racism

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CambridgeUSA

Editors and affiliations

  • Christoph Irmscher
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana University Bloomington BloomingtonUSA

About the editors

Christoph Irmscher is Director of the Wells Scholars Program, Co-President of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, Indiana University, Bloomington,  USA.

Author of 'Louis Agassiz, Creator of American Science' featured by the New York Times Book Review

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Introduction to the Study of Natural History
  • Book Subtitle Edited and Annotated by Christoph Irmscher
  • Authors Louis Agassiz
  • Editors Christoph Irmscher
  • Series Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • Series Abbreviated Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Birkhäuser, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and Statistics (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-66079-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-88171-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-66081-3
  • Series ISSN 2365-9963
  • Series E-ISSN 2365-9971
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 126
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 74 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Plant Sciences
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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