Examining editions of The natural history of Aleppo : revitalizing eighteenth-century texts
Starkey, Janet Catherine Murray
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This thesis revisits the liberal intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment by comparing two editions of The Natural History of Aleppo (1756: 1794) written and/or edited by Scottish physicians, half-brothers Alexander and Patrick Russell, in which they recorded their observations of Aleppo in northern Syria. There has been only one other monograph written about this text, entitled Aleppo observed by Maurits van den Boogert and published in 2010. As yet no comparative study of the two editions seems to have been made. As a result, this thesis should revitalize interest in The Natural History of Aleppo (1756 and 1794) across academic fields including Levantine and Ottoman studies, subject-specific disciplines and in the Scottish context. This thesis is divided into four parts. In the first part Chapter 1 provides a literature review and outlines the structure of this thesis. Chapter 2 is a synopsis of the authors’ life histories as background for subsequent discussion. In Part II, the popularity of the two editions (1756 and 1794) is assessed (Chapter 3). This assessment is followed by an appraisal of literary aspects of the two editions of an eighteenth-century text (Chapter 4). To assess the quality, originality and relative significance of Aleppo further, selected topics covered variously in the two editions are explored in Part III (Chapter 5 on medicine, Chapter 6 on flora and fauna, and Chapter 7 on aspects of the exotic). The final Part IV provides a range of conclusions to revitalize eighteenth-century texts and suggests topics for further research.