Scientific Americans

The Making of Popular Science and Evolution in Early Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture

John Bruni

Scientific Americans

John Bruni

Distributed for University of Wales Press

272 pages | 8 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2014
Cloth $82.00 ISBN: 9781783160174 Published May 2014 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
In Scientific Americans, John Bruni brings matters of global citizenship and ecological awareness to bear on an analysis of literary naturalism and identity formation. Bruni looks at the works of Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, Jack London, and Henry Adams, arguing that their works both illustrate how social environments shape the representation and reception of evolutionary theories and test the evolutionary destablilizing of identity against the social categories of race, gender, and citizenship.


List of illustrations


1. Popular Science, Evolution and Global Information Management

1.1 Reconstructing the social and scientific

1.2 Scientific and cultural narratives of expansion

1.3 Information and control systems

1.4 Historicizing science

2. Dirty Naturalism and the Regime of Thermodynamic Self-Organization

2.1 Social regulation and the power of art

2.2 Self-organization and energy flows

2.3 Ecocriticism and thermodynamics

2.4 Social work and moral parasites

3. The Ecology of Empire

3.1 The Call of the Wild and the national frontier

3.2 Wild Fang and the ideology of domestication

3.3 The multiplicity of animal bodies

3.4 Ghosts of American Citizens

3.5 Where to draw the line? Biological kinship and legal discourse

4. After the Flood: Performance and Nation

4.1 Managing life

4.2 Business morality and Western water policy

4.3 ‘Constitutional restlessness’ and ‘something not ourselves’

4.4 Systems of art: perception and communication

4.5 Pure fiction

5. The Miseducation of Henry Adams: Fantasies of Race, Citizenship and Biological Dynamos

5.1 Evolution as historical process

5.2 Thermodynamics and citizenship

5.3 The new American as techno-subject

5.4 Beyond evolution: information, control and paranoia

5.5 ‘The Rule of Phase Applied to History’

5.6 ‘A Letter to American Teachers of History’


Henry Adams: ecocritic?

‘Cyborg politics’ and the technoscientific regime

The American System and global debt

Biopolitics and posthuman life: the call of Jack London





Review Quotes
Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University
Scientific Americans offers an original assessment of Jack London’s novelistic use of animal characters to engage with scientific and political discourses, and brilliantly models for literature and science scholarship the interrogation of cultural assumptions about personal and social identity.”
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