Using historical sources comprised of earthquake stories of multiple genres - personal anecdotes, prayers, sermons, natural histories, philosophical treatises, poems - as well as texts about modern scientific theories, this project demonstrates how unpredictable and incompletely understood phenomena like earthquakes both expose and challenge the boundaries of knowledge. The process of European expansion to the Americas in the early modern period provides some geographical and temporal structure to the broad scope of this project, which discusses stories that come from across the globe and cover the period from roughly the eighth century BCE to the present. Special attention is paid to scientific or natural philosophical views of earthquakes, and to religious and mythological stories about the phenomenon, in order to show how a fuller understanding of earthquakes requires expanding beyond traditional limits of knowledge. So far, no individual explanation for why the earth shakes - whether ancient or modern, religious or scientific - has proven to be complete. Until such time as we have complete knowledge--if that time ever comes--a diversity of perspectives can help us to frame our understanding of earthquakes and their impact on human history.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2010. Major: History. Advisor: Carla Rahn Phillips. 1 computer file (PDF);iii, 275 pages.
Bluestone, Jamie Rae.
Why the earth shakes: pre-modern understandings and modern earthquake science..
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