D. Graham Burnett's Publications
An archive of Burnett's publications: books are listed as Amazon links; articles and essays link to PDFs.
Books & Monographs
The Sounding of the Whale: Science and Cetaceans in the Twentieth Century
University of Chicago Press. January 2012.
How did whales become the poster organism for the modern environmental movement? A close study of the changing understanding of—and the changing meanings ascribed to—these strange beasts over the last century.
Princeton University Press. November 2007.
A study of classification and taxonomy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, focused on the whale as an anomalous organism.
A Trial By Jury
Knopf. September 2001; Japanese edition, 2006.
A narrative non-fiction account of a trial in Manhattan.
Descartes and the Hyperbolic Quest: Lens-Making in the Seventeenth Century
American Philosophical Society, Transactions series. Vol. 95 (3): 2005.
A book-length study of optics, lens craft, and Cartesian thought.
Masters of All They Surveyed: Exploration, Geography, and a British El Dorado
University of Chicago Press. September 2000.
A history of geographical exploration in South America, and a study of the entanglements of science and imperialism.
Book Chapters & Catalog Essays
“Self Recording Seas” (English); “Mers autoenregistreuses” (French)
Oceanomania: Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas—From the Expedition to the Aquarium (exh. cat.)
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; April 12–September 30, 2011
(London: Mack, 2011).
“Fabled Land” and “Traversing Space” (two chapters)
Mapping Latin America: Space and Society, 1492–2000, edited by Karl Offen and Jordana Dym
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, October 2011).
“The Falling Sky”
Wild Sky (exh. cat.)
Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany; May 27–August 14, 2011.
NB: The text is in German and English; the German begins on p. 96 (the seventh page of the PDF) and is followed by the English on p. 100 (the eleventh page of the PDF).
"Looking at the Surface"
Liquid Door, by Isola and Norzi
(New York: Art in General, 2010).
“The Thin Film: Vannevar Bush and Vision by Incision”
The Slice: Cutting to See
Catalog of an exhibition on the history and theory of the cross-sectional view.
Architectural Association, London, November–December 2010; co-curated by Burnett and Christopher Turner.
A Little Common Place Book
(Brooklyn: Cabinet Books and Proteotypes, 2010).
A reprint of Common Place Book Formed Generally Upon the Principles Recommended and Practiced by John Locke, Esquire (Hamilton and Co., 1797).
“Epistemology and Little Bits of Paper”
The Marvelous Museum—Orphans, Curiosities & Treasures: A Mark Dion Project, by Mark Dion et al.
(San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2010).
“Where Are We?”
Lost Souls, by Lena Herzog
(Millbrook, NY: de.MO, 2010).
“Drawn from the Sea”
Sea Marks: Drawing Papers 89, edited and introduced by Nina Katchadourian
(New York: The Drawing Center, 2010).
The Imperial Map: Cartography and the Mastery of Empire, edited by James Ackerman
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009).
“Masters of the Universe” (with Jonathan D. Solomon)
Models, edited by Emily Abruzzo, Eric Ellingsen, and Jonathan D. Solomon
(New York: 306090 Books, 2007).
“‘The Very Pelvis of the World’: Science and the Pursuit of Whales”
Objects in Transition: An Exhibit at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, edited by Giaenrico Bernasconi, Anna Maerker, and Susanne Pickert
(Berlin: MPI, 2007).
“Matthew Fontaine Maury’s ‘Sea of Fire’: Hydrography, Biogeography, and Providence in the Tropics”
Tropical Visions in an Age of Empire, edited by Felix Driver and Luciana Martins
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
“Robert H. Schomburgk and the Boundaries of Guyana”
Robert H. Schomburgk: Essays in Honor of an Explorer and Natural Scientist, edited by
(Georgetown, Guyana: S.H. Press and the Ministry of Culture, 2004).
Of Maps and Men: In Pursuit of a Northwest Passage, by John Delaney
(Princeton: Rare Books, 2004), exhibition catalogue for the Leonard L. Milberg Gallery.
“Robert H. Schomburgk”
The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, edited by Bernard Lightman
(London: Thoemmes Press, 2004).
“Savage Selection: Analogy and Elision in On the Origin of Species”
An article arguing that the argumentative structure of Darwin’s work has been misunderstood
Endeavour, Vol. 33 (4): 120–125; December 2009.
“Knowledge of Leviathan: Captain Charles W. Morgan Anatomizes His Whale” (with Dan Bouk)
Edited and annotated publication of an important historical document
Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 27:433-66; Fall, 2008.
“Metaphysics, Money & the Messiah” (with Cornel West)
A conversation about Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man.
Dædalus, Vol. 136 (4):101-114; Fall, 2007.
“FOCUS: Science and the Law”
A special section of four articles.
Isis, Vol. 98 (2):310-350; June, 2007.
“Mapping Time: Chronometry on Top of the World”
Clocks and rocks and maps and memory.
Dædalus, Vol. 132 (2):5–19; Spring, 2003.
“Einstein, Poincaré & Modernity” (with Peter Galison)
A discussion of timekeeping in the history of science.
Dædalus, Vol. 132 (2):41-55; Spring, 2003.
“‘It is impossible to make a step…’ Nineteenth-Century Interior Exploration and the Amerindians of British Guiana”
Ethnohistory, Vol. 49 (1):2-40; Winter, 2002.
“Exploration, Performance, Alliance: Robert Schomburgk in British Guiana”
Journal of Caribbean Studies, Vol. 15(1&2): Fall, 2000.
“Robert Fludd: The Cosmogonic Experiments”
An essay on the history of experimentation, with annotated translation.
Ambix, Vol. 46 (3): November, 1999.
“A View from the Bridge: The Two Cultures Debate, Its Legacy, and the History of Science”
Abstracted in The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Wilson Quarterly.
Dædalus, Vol. 128 (2):193-218; Spring, 1999.
“Insular Visions: Cartographic Imagery and the Spanish-American War” (with R.B. Craib).
The Historian, Vol. 61: Fall, 1998.
Selected Essays & Reviews
Cabinet, Issue 48: 39–40; Winter 2012/13.
“Coming Full Circle”
The Traveling Salesman Problem and the dream of optimality
Cabinet, Issue 47: 73–77; Fall 2012.
“Hell Is a Funhouse Mirror”
Dante’s Inferno and Dante’s Inferno
Cabinet, Issue 46: 90–91; Summer 2012.
“The Games Game Theorists Play”
The unstable alliances of So Long, Sucker
Cabinet, Issue 45: 67–70; Spring 2012.
“November 10, 2011”
Contribution to the themed section on “24 Hours.”
Cabinet, Issue 44: 60–61; Winter 2011/12.
“The Memeory Hole Has Teeth”
Toward a field guide to shred.
Cabinet, Issue 42: 70–77; Summer 2011.
Review of David Senior’s Access to Tools: The Whole Earth Catalog, 1968–1974 (at MoMA in summer 2011).
Nature, Vol. 474(7353): 578; June 30, 2011.
“The Singing of the Grid”
Thoreau’s electro-Aeolian redeemer.
Cabinet, Issue 41: 61–66; Spring 2011.
"Facing the Unknown"
Cesare Brandi and the question, How to recover what was lost?
Cabinet, Issue 40: 39–46; Winter 2010/11.
"Outsider Science: Joseph J. Woodson's Solitary Census of Marine Life"
Contribution to The New City Reader, a project that re-conceives the newspaper as a public space, part of "The Last Newspaper" exhibition at the New Museum.
The New City Reader, December 24, 2010
"Maps, Bodies, States"
An essay on cartography and national identity, commissioned in connection with the run of John Guare's A Free Man of Color. (With art by Aleksandra Mir).
Lincoln Center Theater Review, Issue 54: 20–22; Winter 2010
"Learning Degree Zero"
On learning about learning, via Aplysia californica.
Cabinet, Issue 39: 59–62; Fall 2010.
"On the Monstrosity of Islands"
The island as a sea monster.
Cabinet, Issue 38: 90–94; Summer 2010.
"The Objective Case: A Review Essay on Daston and Galison, Objectivity (Zone, 2007)"
October, 133: 133–144; Summer 2010.
"A Mind in the Water: The Dolphin as Our Beast of Burden"
On flotation tanks, Cold War brain science, LSD, and, yes, the dolphin.
Orion, May–June 2010: 38–51.
In 2012, Kagaku republished “A Mind in the Water” in Japanese.
"Two Bubbles, and a Third"
An essay on the "Homo Bulla" trope.
Cabinet, Issue 37: 93–98; Spring 2010.
“On the Misrecognition of Friends"
Contribution to a portfolio of essays and artists' projects dealing with the failures of friendship.
Cabinet, Issue 36: 100; Winter 2009/10.
“Eloge: Michael S. Mahoney” (with Jed Buchwald)
Isis, Vol. 100 (3): 623–626; September 2009.
“A Little Travel Is a Dangerous Thing”
Lead essay on the history of exploration, empire, and knowledge
Lapham's Quarterly, Vol. 2(3): 187–194; Summer 2009 (TRAVEL).
“Deception as a Way of Knowing” (with Anthony Grafton)
A conversation about plagiarism, forgery, and the history of learning
Cabinet, Issue 33: 69–76; Spring 2009.
And see further correspondence on this here.
Cabinet, Issue 34: 57; Summer 2009.
“The X Factor”
Edited republication of Max Joseph von Pettenkofer’s 1892 self-experimentation with cholera
Cabinet, Issue 33: 10–12; Spring 2009.
“The Great Whale Trial: Science and Society in the Early Republic,” and
“The Whale Trial on Trial: A Reply” [including the four commissioned essay-reviews]
The editors of HS commissioned four essay-reviews of Trying Leviathan (Thomas Bender, Joyce E. Chaplin, Benjamin Cohen, and Cyrus R.K. Patell).
Historically Speaking, Vol. X(1): 19–28; January 2009.
“A Juror's Role”
An essay on the civic and political functions of juries in the American legal system; commissioned by the State Department.
Anatomy of a Jury Trial, US Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs; 2009
“Fire and Truth”
An essay on spectroscopy, the trial by ordeal, and the idea of the “crucible.”
Cabinet, Issue 32: 61–66; Winter 2008/09.
“Catch and Release”
An essay on the history of pedagogical practices in the classroom and the field.
Lapham’s Quarterly, Vol. 1(4): 217-21; Fall, 2008 (EDUCATION)
“The Orienting Stone”
An essay on the neurophysiology of vertebrate spatial orientation.
Cabinet, Issue 31: 6-10; Fall, 2008.
“This is Your Captain Speaking”
Essay on mysticism and prophesy.
Raritan, Vol. 28(2): 147-153; Fall, 2008
“Flat Earth and Amazons”
A review of Neil Safier’s Measuring the New World (Chicago, 2008).
Nature, Vol. 454(21): 942-48; August, 2008.
“Joy in Repetition”
An essay on poetry, prayer and the epistemological implications of refrains.
The American Poetry Review, Vol. 37(4): 11-13; July/August, 2008.
Lead essay on Charles Fourier, Alain de Lille, and the sexual politics of natural law theories.
Lapham’s Quarterly, Vol. 1(3): 182-89; Summer, 2008 (NATURE)
Review of Scientific Uncertainty and the Politics of Whaling, by Michael Heazle (University of Washington, 2006)
Isis, Vol. 98 (2): June, 2007.
“Cutting the World at Its Joints” (with Sina Najafi)
A conversation on taxonomy and comparative anatomy in 18th and 19th c.
Cabinet, Issue 28: 81-88; Winter 2007/2008.
“Blowing the Status Quo out of the Water” (with Anna Mundow)
An interview on Trying Leviathan.
The Boston Globe, December 16, 2007
“Foreword" to special issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of 12 Angry Men.
Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 82(2): December, 2007.
Review of Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection by M. Monmonier (Chicago, 2004)
London Review of Books, Vol. 27 (21): November 3, 2005.
Review of Prince Henry, ‘The Navigator’, by Peter Russell (Yale, 2000)
Isis, Vol. 96(1): March, 2005.
Review of Maps, Myths, and Men, by Kirsten A. Seaver (Stanford, 2004)
Isis, Vol. 96(1): March, 2005.
“The Founder of Empires"
Essay on a story preserved in Islamic texts about sea creatures and the founding of Alexandria.
The American Scholar, Vol. 73(4): 65-68; Autumn, 2004
Review of Medical Geography in Historical Perspective, edited by Nicolaas A. Rupke
Journal of the History of Medicine, Vol. 59(1): January, 2004.
“The Error of All Things”
Review essay on Ken Alder’s The Measure of All Things (Free Press, 2003).
American Scientist, Vol. 91: 166-169; March-April, 2003.
“Oil Paper, Ink, and Coming Home”
An introductory essay to a special volume on travel narratives.
Princeton University Library Chronicle, Vol. LXIV(2): 249-251; Winter, 2003.
“Double Exposure” (with Maria Burnett-Gaudiani)
Joint diary entries from 9/11
The American Scholar, Vol. 71 (1): 29–37; Winter, 2002
“The Mass in Spanish”
Essay-memoir on language, liturgy, and spiritual tradition.
The American Scholar, Vol. 70 (3): 14-29; Summer, 2001
“Writing the History of Time”
Essay review of The Apocalypse and the Shape of Things to Come (at the British Museum) and
The Story of Time (at the National Maritime Museum).
The New Republic, September 11, 2000.
Review of Lisa Jardine’s Ingenious Pursuits (Doubleday, 1999).
The New York Times (Book Review Section), February 6, 2000.
“A Fecund Conundrum”
Review (with A. Kelman) of Simpson’s Visions of Paradise (California, 1999), Henderson’s California and the Fictions of Capital (Oxford, 1999), and Wyckoff’s Creating Colorado (Yale, 1999).
Times Literary Supplement, January 21, 2000.
Essay review of Jeremy Black’s Maps and Politics (Chicago, 1997), J. Brotton’s Trading Territories (Cornell, 1998), and P.D. Burden’s The Mapping of North America (Raleigh, 1996)
Isis, Vol. 90(4): December, 1999.
“Life of the Mind Dept., ‘The Care and Feeding of Humanists’”
A short piece on the Center for Scholars and Writers, NYPL.
The New Yorker, November 1, 1999
“What Time is it in the Transept?”
Review of J.L. Heilbron’s The Sun in the Church (Harvard, 1999).
The New York Times (Book Review Section), October 24, 1999.
“Science and History: Do the Claims of Science Transcend Time and Place?”
Essay on a problem in philosophy of science.
21stCentury, Issue 4.2: Fall, 1999
Review of Victorian Science in Context, edited by Bernard Lightman (Chicago, 1997)
The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 71(3): September, 1999.
Review of Adrian Johns’ The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago, 1998)
The New Republic, May 10, 1999
Review of Peter Raby’s Bright Paradise: Victorian Scientific Travellers (Princeton, 1997)
The International History Review, Vol. XXI(1): March, 1999.
14,000-word survey article on the history of exploration and geography.
ENCARTA, 1999 edition.
“A Dream of Reason”
Review of E.O. Wilson’s Consilience (Knopf, 1998); reprinted by britannica.com.
The American Scholar, Vol. 67(3): 143-148; Summer, 1998
Review of Matthew Edney’s Mapping an Empire (Chicago, 1997).
Times Literary Supplement, February 20, 1998
“In That November off Tehuantepec”
Review (with R.B. Craib) of Barbara Mundy’s Mapping of New Spain (Chicago, 1996).
Cartographic Perspectives, Vol. 27: Spring 1997.
“The Dodo’s Legacy”
Review of Richard Grove’s Green Imperialism (Cambridge, 1995).
Times Literary Supplement, September 8, 1995
“Pity a Science that Needs Heroes”
Review of Gerald Geison’s The Private Science of Louis Pasteur (Princeton, 1995).
The Economist, July 1, 1995
“The Chances of a New Plague”
Review of L. Garrett’s The Coming Plague (FSG, 1994) and R. Preston’s The Hot
Zone (Random House, 1994).
The Economist, December 17, 1994
Apocrypha, Pseudonymities, Experiments, Projects
“Giving Back” (Yara Flores, pseud.)
Ask not what the tree can do for you
Cabinet, Issue 48: 75; Winter 2012/13.
“Inventory / To Do” (Molly Gottstauk, pseud.)
Scripting the self.
Cabinet, Issue 44: 12–13; Winter 2011/12.
“Colors / Umber” (Yara Flores, pseud.)
Only the shadow knows.
Cabinet, Issue 43: 9–11; Fall 2011.
“The Clermont Connection: Evidences Bearing on Associationist Associations of the Order at Midcentury (The Robinson/Fairwright Correspondence)” (with Sal Randolph)
Publication of documents ostensibly bearing on the history of the Order of the Third Bird.
Proceedings of the Esthetical Society for Transcendental and Applied Realization, New Series: part 4; 2011.
“Artist Projects / Monument to Forgetting” (Eigil zu Tage-Ravn, pseud.)
One of a set of artist projects considering monuments to the act of forgetting.
Cabinet, Issue 42: 87–91; Summer 2011.
“Drain Pipes, Dream Pipes, Pipe Dreams” (Yara Flores, pseud.)
Cabinet, Issue 41: 79–81; Spring 2011.
"Dialectics of the Shmoo" (Yara Flores, pseud.)
On the lives and afterlives of Al Capp's The Life and Times of the Shmoo.
Cabinet, Issue 40: 10–12; Winter 2010/11.
"Spirit Duplication" (Yara Flores, pseud.)
A meditation on catechism, the ditto device, and the semiotics of technology.
Cabinet, Issue 39: 74–75; Fall 2010.
In 2011, Edit republished "Spirit Duplication" in German.
"Leftovers / The Art of Mechanical Reproductions" (Yara Flores, pseud.)
A visual project on the end of the book.
Cabinet, Issue 37: 20–21; Spring 2010.
“Ingestion / The Word Made Flesh" (Eigil Zu Tage-Ravn, pseud.)
Parafiction on the history of text eating.
Cabinet, Issue 36: 7–9; Winter 2009/10.
“Reading to the Endgame" (with W. J. Walter)
An experiment in ludic literary criticism built out of a computer-based work of conceptual art.
Cabinet, Issue 35: 40–44; Fall 2009.
In 2010, OEI republished "Reading to the Endgame" in Swedish.
“Plaice and Place” (Sanelma Nicht, pseud.)
Parafiction on the biogeography of flatfish. Part of a commissioned portfolio of artists' projects and essays on "pla(i)ce" in the arts.
Cabinet, Issue 32: 45–46; Winter 2008/09.
“The Rational Hearth: Gauger, Descartes, and the Vestal Complex” (Frumento Combusti, pseud.)
An essay on Bachelard and 18th-century fireplace design.
Cabinet, Issue 32: 99-102; Winter 2008/2009.
“Four Leaves from a Commonplace Book"
A sequence of prose poems based on traditions of textual citation.
Cabinet, Issue 30: 47-49; Summer, 2008.
“The Edge of the C”
An essay on Paul Carter and the poetry of Wallace Stevens.
Southerly, Vol. 66(2): 27-35; Spring, 2006.
“And a Man Child”
A poem offered in completion/rejection of Stevens’ “Comedian as the Letter C.”
Southerly, Vol. 66(2): 35-39; Spring, 2006.
“Maycomb-Macdonnell, M.I. Return (1764–1818?)” (Frum O. Combist, pseud.)
The life of M.I. Return Maycomb-Macdonnell; a Montweazle, assigned by the editorial house.
The Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century British Scientists, vol. 3: K–Q (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 1382–1388.