Electronic book text
August 1, 2009
9780801892141
English
320
3 halftones, 5 line drawings
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$61.00 USD, £45.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Six Legs Better

A Cultural History of Myrmecology

Ants long have fascinated linguists, human sociologists, and even cyberneticians. At the end of the nineteenth century, ants seemed to be admirable models for human life and were praised for their work ethic, communitarianism, and apparent empathy. They provided a natural-theological lesson on the relative importance of humans within creation and inspired psychologists to investigate the question of instinct and its place in the life of higher animals and humans. By the 1930s, however, ants came to symbolize one of modernity's deepest fears: the loss of selfhood. Researchers then viewed the ant colony as an unthinking mass, easily ruled and slavishly organized.

In this volume, Charlotte Sleigh uses specific representations of ants within the field of entomology from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries to explore the broader role of metaphors in science and their often unpredictable translations. Marking the centenary of the coining of "myrmecology" to describe the study of ants, Six Legs Better demonstrates the remarkable historical role played by ants as a node where notions of animal, human, and automaton intersect.

About the Author

Charlotte Sleigh is a senior lecturer at the Centre for History and Cultural Studies of Science, University of Kent.

Reviews

"A lively and erudite storyteller, Sleigh vividly portrays the fluidity between scientific genres and between the sciences and the humanities . . . reading the book is like peering into an ant farm to watch the construction of an intricate and complex nest."—Anna Lena Phillips, American Scientist

"A provocative, complex account of a multifaceted period of cultural history. There is material here that will lead to a great deal of reflection by historians and scientists alike."—Matthew Cobb, Times Literary Supplement

"Impressive for its depth and detail."—Bernd Heinrich, Quarterly Review of Biology

"interesting and readable."—Graham W. Elmes, British Journal of Entomology and Natural History

"The scholarship will form an excellent starting point for all future studies in this area."—Eric C. Brown, Anthrozoös

"Rich with information . . . I recommend this book."—Andrew Suarez, RedOrbit News

"Sleigh provides great insight . . . I recommend this book."—Andrew V. Suarez, Bioscience

"Her book as a whole is a treasure of insights about science and metaphor."—Richard W. Burkhardt, British Journal for the History of Science

"Certainly, Sleigh's book provides an excellent resource for understanding the background of the historical connections between the study of ants and the study of humanity."—Janine Rogers, The British Society for Literature and Science

"In an elegant writing style . . . she draws upon an impressive body of material."—Assoc. Prof. Jes S. Pedersen, Myrmecological News

The Johns Hopkins University Press
Animals, History, Culture

9780801892141 : six-legs-better-sleigh
Electronic book text
320 Pages
$61.00 USD

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