Adam Phillip Dodd: Making the Insect World: The Science and Fiction of Entomology
This project examines the cooperation of rhetorical worldmaking and anthropomorphism in the historical portrayal of insects in Western society. Why have we referred to the habitat of insects as "the insect world" since at least the eighteenth century? What happens to the environmental rapport between humans and insects when we think of them as "otherworldly?" What are the similarities and differences between human beings and insects, and which should be emphasised? Are insects more like robots than animals? What is the relationship between microscopy, entomology, and the rise of scientific romance and science fiction? These are some of the questions addressed in the monograph.
The illustration is taken from Jan Swammerdam's "The Book of Nature", London : Printed for C.G. Seyffert, 1758.
A primary focus for the project is the extent to which microfaunae were considered to be 'animals' and how increasing knowledge about their anatomy, habitat and behaviour shaped definitions of the animal itself. The role of visioning technologies, especially the microscope, is central here, and connects with the wider question of how animals have historically been figured as objects and signs through the deployment of representational conventions.