This text addresses the question of how dinosaurs moved from natural extinction to pop culture resurrection, exploring the animal's place in our lives and the source of its popular appeal. In tracing the cultural family tree of the dinosaur there is discovered a creature of striking flexibility, linked to dragons and mammoths, skyscrapers and steam engines, cowboys and Indians. Here the dinosaur becomes a cultural symbol whose plurality of meaning and often contradictory nature is emblematic of modern society itself. As a scientific entity, the dinosaur endured a near-eclipse for over a century, but as an image it is enjoying its widest circulation. The text suggests it endures because it is uniquely malleable, a figure of both innovation and obsolescence, massive power and pathetic failure - the totem animal of modernity.
W. J. T. Mitchell is the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago and editor of Critical Inquiry.
1: Reptilicus erectus 2: Big, Fierce, Extinct 3: A Stegosaurus Made of Money 4: The End of Dinosaurology 5: The Last Thunder Horse West of the Mississippi 6: Dinotopia: The Newt World Order 7: The Last Dinostory: As Told by Himself 8: Seeing Saurians 9: Sorting Species 10: Monsters and Dinomania 11: Big MacDino 12: The Totem Animal of Modernity 13: The Way of Dragons 14: Dry Bones 15: On the Evolution of Images 16: Thomas Jefferson, Paleontologist 17: Frames, Skeletons, Constitutions 18: The Victorian Dinosaur 19: Coming to America 20: Bones for Darwin's Bulldog 21: Schizosaur 22: Dinosaurs Moralized 23: Pale-Ontology, or It's Not Easy Being Green 24: Potlatch and Purity 25: Diplodocus carnegii 26: Totems and Bones 27: Indiana Jones and Barnum Bones 28: Worlds Well Lost 29: Bringing Down Baby 30: Miner's Canary or Trojan Horse? 31: The Age of Reptiles 32: The Hundred Story Beast 33: Structure, Energy, Information 34: Catastrophe, Entropy, Chaos 35: The Age of Biocybernetic Reproduction 36: Carnosaurs and Consumption 37: Why Children Hate Dinosaurs 38: Dinos R Us: Identification and Fantasy 39: Calvinosaurus: From T. rex to O. Rex 40: Transitional Objects: From Breast to Brontosaurus Paleoart 265 A: Scrotum Humanum: The True Name of the Dinosaur B: Science and Culture Notes Selected Bibliography Acknowledgments Index