Under the Literary Microscope

Science and Society in the Contemporary Novel

Edited by Sina Farzin, Susan M. Gaines, Roslynn D. Haynes

Hardback - £79.95

Publication date:

20 April 2021

Length of book:

270 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271089782

“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.

“This lively collection is valuable for its placement of literary criticism alongside scholarship on public engagement with science. It grants to authors a more nuanced understanding of the various dimensions of scientific personnel and practice than critics have previously acknowledged, and it offers such texts as spaces where the reading public can engage with questions concerning the nature of science.”

—Charlotte Sleigh, author of Literature and Science