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Scatological studies allow one to determine a wide range of biological information about a creature, including its diet (and thus where it has been), healthiness, and diseases such as tapeworms. The word derives from the Greek σκώρ (genitive σκατός, modern σκατό, pl. σκατά) meaning "feces".
A comprehensive study of scatology was documented by John Gregory Bourke under the title Scatalogic Rites of All Nations (1891). An abbreviated version of the work (with a foreword by Sigmund Freud), was published as The Portable Scatalog in 1994.
In sexual fetishism, scatology (usually abbreviated scat) refers to when a person is sexually aroused by fecal matter, whether in the use of feces in various sexual acts, watching someone defecating, or simply seeing the feces. Entire subcultures in sexuality are devoted to this fetish.
In literature, "scatological" is a term to denote the literary trope of the grotesque body. It is used to describe works that make particular reference to excretion or excrement, as well as to toilet humor. A common example is John Dryden's MacFlecknoe, a poem that ridicules Dryden's contemporary, Thomas Shadwell. Dryden refers to him as "Thomas Sh--," deliberately evoking scatological imagery. In German literature in particular is a wealth of scatological texts and references, which includes such books as Collofino's Non Olet. A case which has provoked an unusual amount of comment in the academic literature is Mozart's scatological humour.
- Bakhtin, Mikhail, Rabelais and His World.
- Lewin, Ralph, Merde: excursions in scientific, cultural and socio-historical coprology. Random House, 1999. ISBN 0-375-50198-3.
- Susan Gubar, "The Female Monster in Augustan Satire." Signs 3.2 (Winter, 1977): 380-394.
- Jae Num Lee, Swift and Scatological Satire. U of New Mexico P, 1971. ISBN 0-8263-0196-7.
- Henderson, Jeffrey (1991). The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy. Oxford UP. ISBN 0-19-506685-5.