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In Insect Poetics, the first book to comprehensively explore the cultural and textual meanings of bugs, editor Eric Brown argues that insects are humanity’s “other.” In order to be experienced, the insect world must be mediated by art or technology (as in the case of an ant farm or Kafka’s Metamorphoses) while humans observe, detached and fascinated.
In eighteen original essays, this book illuminates the ways in which our human intellectual and cultural models have been influenced by the natural history of insects. Through critical readings contributors address such topics as performing insects in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, the cockroach in the contemporary American novel, the butterfly’s “voyage out” in Virginia Woolf, and images of insect eating in literature and popular culture. In surprising ways, contributors tease out the particularities of insects as cultural signifiers and propose ways of thinking about “insectivity,” suggesting fertile cross-pollinations between entomology and the arts, between insects and the humanities.
Contributors: May Berenbaum, Yves Cambefort, Marion W. Copeland, Nicky Coutts, Bertrand Gervais, Sarah Gordon, Cristopher Hollingsworth, Heather Johnson, Richard J. Leskosky, Tony McGowan, Erika Mae Olbricht, Marc Olivier, Roy Rosenstein, Rachel Sarsfield, Charlotte Sleigh, Andre Stipanovic.
Eric C. Brown is assistant professor of English at the University of Maine at Farmington. He has written previously about insects and eschatology in Edmund Spenser’s Muiopotmos.
Posted October 1, 2011
"Insect Poetics" is a brilliant approach to ecocriticism as it applies to that most othered of creatures, the insect. Eric C. Brown has gathered together some of the most eloquent voices in ecocritical animal studies today, from Christopher Hollingsworth to Nicky Coutts, to Brown himself. Each chapter is dense with research, yet wonderfully readable, and full of fascinating nuggets of information: you will never look at a flea or a beetle in the same way again. This is a book that deserves to be read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.