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Out Now: Microbium

Published onSep 07, 2023
Out Now: Microbium

About the Book

Microbium: The Neglected Lives of Micro-matter tells the story of small matter such as bacteria, coral, fungi, lichen, pollen, protozoa, and viruses. With short entries that are organized like a herbarium or similar specimen collection, the book is a “microbium”—both the term for a single microbe and a play on “microbiome.”

As such, Microbium makes visible the often overseen but huge impact of miniscule matter on human culture and the environment. Each entry is a “microscopic reading” that describes the natural history and scientific discovery of a particular form of micro-matter, while also telling a story about the cultural and artistic roles it has played over the centuries. From the poetry of Emily Dickinson to the “coralness” of coral reefs to contemporary literature about the COVID-19 pandemic, this book places micro-matter under a cultural microscope and translates the significance of the invisible interspecies social realm to the human scale, magnifying the many ways in which micro-matter matters. Ultimately, Microbium shows the potential of micro-matter to teach us how to revitalize our political and cultural systems, habits of thought, and aesthetic or representational modes.

About the Editors

Joela Jacobs is Assistant Professor of German Studies at the University of Arizona and founder of the Literary and Cultural Plant Studies Network. Her research focuses on nineteenth- to twenty-first-century German literature and its intersections with the environmental humanities, specifically plants, animals, and environmentalist culture, as well as Jewish studies, the history of sexuality, and the history of science. She has published on monstrosity, multilingualism, literary censorship, biopolitics, animal epistemology, zoopoetics, phytopoetics, cultural environmentalism, and contemporary German Jewish identity.

Agnes Malinowska is Assistant Instructional Professor in the MA Program in the Humanities and English at the University of Chicago. Her teaching and research focuses on American modernism and modernity, nonhuman studies, the history of science, and gender and sexuality studies. Agnes’s recent writing appears in the journal Modernism/modernity.

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