“An Insect View of Its Plain”

Insects, Nature and God in Thoreau, Dickinson and Muir


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About the Book

During the nineteenth century, insects became a very fashionable subject of study, and the writing of the day reflected this popularity. However, despite an increased contemporary interest in ecocriticism and cultural entomology, scholars have largely ignored the presence of insects in nineteenth-century literature. This volume addresses that critical gap by exploring the cultural and literary position of insects in the work of Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and John Muir. It examines the beliefs these authors share about the nature of our connection to insects and what insects have to teach about creation and our place in it. An important contribution to both ecocriticism and literary entomology, this work contributes much to the understanding of Thoreau, Dickinson, and Muir as nature writers, natural scientists, entomologists, and botanists, and their intimate and highly spiritual relationships with nature.

About the Author(s)

Rosemary Scanlon McTier is an instructor of English at Waynesburg University in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Rosemary Scanlon McTier
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6493-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0027-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Textual Abbreviations 4
Introduction—Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, and John Muir: Interpreting the Language of Nature 5
I. Insects and the Nineteenth Century 27
II. “With Microscopic Eye”: Thoreau’s Insect Perspective 70
III. “A Minor Nation”: Emily Dickinson and the Insects’ Society 104
IV. John Muir: Translating “Nature’s Book” 145
Chapter Notes 177
Works Cited 185
Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Well researched”—The Emily Dickinson International Society
  • “McTier’s mission in the book is to closely examine the work of Thoreau, Dickinson, and Muir for their views of our connections with insects and what we can learn from insects about our place in nature”—Reference & Research Book News