Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners
Author: Sarah Mangold
Publisher: Fordham University Press (2021)
An innovative book-length poem that delves into the intricacies of natural history dioramas, taxidermy, landscape, and women naturalists, Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners is an experience of looking for “Woman’s Work” in American natural history museums. Why, for instance, have the contributions of taxidermist and naturalist Martha Maxwell, the first person to create a “habitat group” display in the United States, and Delia Akeley, the wife of the “father of modern taxidermy,” been largely erased?
Sarah Mangold mines language from natural history texts and taxidermy manuals from the 1800s to explore the perception and the reception of women in male-dominated scientific pursuits, as well as the doctrine of nature as pure, unpopulated, and outside historical and political time. A stunning work of visual and textual collage, Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners creates a vibrant textual ecology that utilizes language as landscape while reshaping notions of nature and the natural.
"Patriarchy conflates women with nature while erasing their names from the history of science. Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners corrects patriarchy on both counts, naming and celebrating women naturalists who worked in the field and in museums. Mangold brings these adventurous and resourceful women out of the acknowledgment pages of others’ books and into the foreground of her own, highlighting in the process how science, in the guise of objectivity, dresses the natural world in conspicuous artifice. Using verbal and visual collage to evoke and trouble the tropes of collecting, preserving, classifying, and displaying specimens, Mangold fashions out of a trove of found fragments a fabulous feminist Wunderkammer, 'proof of woman’s work' that does not disavow 'its feminine identity.'"
"Stunning. Sarah Mangold's poetry gives voice to the care, beauty and expertise these naturalists devoted to their craft―an attention to detail historically overlooked, but thankfully gaining wider appreciation within the words of Her Wilderness Will Be Her Manners."
"Sarah Mangold’s poetry of preservation is kin to Susan Howe’s archival work. It is both haunted and haunting."