Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel

Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel

Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel

Under the Literary Microscope: Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel


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“Science in fiction,” “geek novels,” “lab-lit”—whatever one calls them, a new generation of science novels has opened a space in which the reading public can experience and think about the powers of science to illuminate nature as well as to generate and mitigate social change and risks. Under the Literary Microscope examines the implications of the discourse taking place in and around this creative space.

Exploring works by authors as disparate as Barbara Kingsolver, Richard Powers, Ian McEwan, Ann Patchett, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Crichton, these essays address the economization of scientific institutions; ethics, risk, and gender disparity in scientific work; the reshaping of old stereotypes of scientists; science in an evolving sci-fi genre; and reader reception and potential contributions of the novels to public understandings of science.

Under the Literary Microscope illuminates the new ways in which fiction has been grappling with scientific issues—from climate change and pandemics to artificial intelligence and genomics—and makes a valuable addition to both contemporary literature and science studies courses.

In addition to the editors, the contributors include Anna Auguscik, Jay Clayton, Carol Colatrella, Sonja Fücker, Raymond Haynes, Luz María Hernández Nieto, Emanuel Herold, Karin Hoepker, Anton Kirchhofer, Antje Kley, Natalie Roxburgh, Uwe Schimank, Sherryl Vint, and Peter Weingart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271090115
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 05/03/2021
Series: AnthropoScene: The SLSA Book Series , #7
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 270
File size: 517 KB

About the Author

Sina Farzin is Professor of Sociology at Bundeswehr University Munich. Her research focuses on social exclusion and the sociology of culture and literature.
Susan M. Gaines is Writer in Residence and founder of the Fiction Meets Science Program at the University of Bremen. Her books include the novels Accidentals and Carbon Dreams.
Roslynn D. Haynes is Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her most recent books are From Madman to Crime Fighter: The Scientist in Western Culture and Desert: Nature and Culture.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Science Under the Literary Microscope

Susan M. Gaines, Sina Farzin, and Roslynn D. Haynes

Part 1 Background and Context

Sience and Society in Recent Fiction

Natalie Roxburgh and Jay Clayton

From Individual to Collective Knowledge Production: A Brief Nonfiction History

Peter Weingart and Luz María Hernández Nieto

Between Mad and Mundane: Mixed Stereotypical and Realistic Portrayals of Sience in Contemporary Fiction Media

Luz María Hernández Nieto and Peter Weingart

Part 2 Embedded Science: Societal Impacts on Scientific Work and Knowledge

Scientists at Risk

Roslynn D. Haynes and Raymond Haynes

Speculative Fiction and the Significance of Plausibility: Dystopian Science in the Critical Response to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

Anna Auguscik, Sina Farzin, Emanuel Herold, and Anton Kirchhofer

When the Scientist Is a Woman: Novels and Feminist Science Studies

Carol Colatrella

Economization of Science: Insights from Science Novels

Uwe Schimank

Part 3 Cause and Effect? Science and Its Societal Outcomes

The Science Fiction of Technological Modernity: Images of Science in Recent Science Fiction

Sherryl Vint

Unruly Creatures, Obstinate Things: Bio-Objects and Scientific Knowledge Production in Contemporary Science Fiction

Karin Hoepker and Antje Kley

A Fictional Risk Narrative and Its Potential for Social Resonance: Reception of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior in Reviews and Reading Groups

Sonja Fücker, Anna Auguscik, Anton Kirchhofer, and Uwe Schimank

List of Contributors


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