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Journal Article

The Post-Heroic Field


Benson,  Etienne Samuel
External, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Max Planck Society;

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Benson, E. S. (2022). The Post-Heroic Field. Isis, 113(1), 114-120. doi:10.1086/718151.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-CBA4-8
This essay argues for taking fieldwork seriously, but not too seriously. It focuses on geologists and geomorphologists in the United States in the post–World War II decades who used irony, satire, and self-conscious staging to negotiate the contradictions between the tradition of frontier fieldwork that they had inherited from the late nineteenth century and the realities of mid-twentieth-century fieldwork, which they often found hard to fit into the heroic mold. Poking fun at the fieldwork tradition, the essay argues, helped them claim that tradition as their own even while constructing new scientific personas and practices that diverged from it in a number of ways.