Insect poetics


Insect poetics



Insects are everywhere. There are millions of species sharing the world with humans and other animals. Though literally woven into the fabric of human affairs, insects are considered alien from the human world. Animal studies and rights have become a fecund field, but for the most part scant attention has been paid to the relationship between insects and humans. Insect Poetics redresses that imbalance by welcoming insects into the world of letters and cultural debate.

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.



Publication Date



University of Minnesota Press




insects, insects in literature, nature writing, biology of insects


Biology | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature

Insect poetics

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