Homo ferus: the quest for evidence and explanation

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dc.contributor.advisor Malalgoda, Kit en
dc.contributor.author Hemming, Christine Anne en
dc.date.accessioned 2007-09-04T05:55:57Z en
dc.date.available 2007-09-04T05:55:57Z en
dc.date.issued 1985 en
dc.identifier THESIS 85-157 en
dc.identifier.citation Thesis (PhD--Sociology)--University of Auckland, 1985. en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/1718 en
dc.description Full text is available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland only. en
dc.description.abstract Homo ferus, a term coined in the eighteenth century, has continued to be used in the same form or more commonly as feral man or feral child. The term refers to a marginal individual: marginal on account of minimal or abnormal socialisation resulting from isolation from human society. In its more extreme form, the isolation from human society is believed to be compounded by contact with wild animals - wolves, bears, and the like. The search for evidence for the existence of such individuals - from the earliest reports to the latest - is documented in this thesis. The documentation reveals significant patterns: a concentration of reports in European countries until the end of the eighteenth century, then in India in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and more recently in remoter regions of the world. Reasons for such temporal and spatial variations are explored in the thesis. Side by side with the search for evidence on homo ferus, there have also been attempts - from the eighteenth century onwards - to use that evidence in theoretical discussions, to examine the reliability of the evidence, and to explain the nature and origins of the evidence. Participants in these discussions have been many and varied, and the thesis is organised around the contributions of about thirty of them, considered in four separate chapters. In a partly chronological and partly thematic order, the four chapters describe the ways in which evidence relating to homo ferus has been used in eighteenth-century discussions on the contrast between the state of nature and civil society (Chapter One); in studies of folklore and of mental subnormality in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Chapter Two); in debates on the relative importance of heredity and environment in the mid-twentieth century (Chapter Three); and in more recent discussions on the distinction between nature and culture (Chapter Four). Running through such diverse discussions is a common interest in defining the nature of humanity. The challenge to such definitions posed by marginal creatures possibly explains the fascination that homo ferus has exercised on both popular and scientific imagination. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA9921973014002091 en
dc.rights Restricted Item. Available to authenticated members of The University of Auckland. en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title Homo ferus: the quest for evidence and explanation en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Sociology en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en


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