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Palgrave Macmillan

Bees, Science, and Sex in the Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century

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  • © 2024


  • Cuts across apiology, the history of science, and ecocriticism
  • Foregrounds legal status of honeybees, presence of bees to democratic movements, print media, and canonical Literature
  • Contributes to the growing field of cultural entomology during the current mass extinction crisis

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Animals and Literature (PSAAL)

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About this book

The long nineteenth century (1789-1914) has been described as an axial age in the history of both bees and literature. It was the period in which the ecological and agronomic values that are still attributed to bees by modern industrial society were first established, and it was the period in which one bee species (the European honeybee) completed its dispersal to every habitable continent on Earth. At the same time, literature – which would enable, represent and in some cases repress or disavow this radical transformation of bees’ fortunes ­– was undergoing its own set of transformations. Bees, Science, and Sex in the Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century navigates the various developments that occurred in the scientific study of bees and in beekeeping during this period of remarkable change, focusing on the bees themselves, those with whom they lived, and how old and new ideas about bees found expression in an ever-diversifying range of literary media. Ranging across literary forms and genres, the studies in this volume show the ubiquity of bees in nineteenth-century culture, demonstrate the queer specificity of writing about and with bees, and foreground new avenues for research into an animal profoundly implicated in the political, economic, ecological, emotional and aesthetic conditions of the modern world.

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Table of contents (11 chapters)

Editors and Affiliations

  • La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia

    Alexis Harley, Christopher Harrington

About the editors

Alexis Harley lectures in literary studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She is the author of Autobiologies: Charles Darwin and the Natural History of the Self. She has kept honeybees since 2012. 

Christopher Harrington teaches literary studies at Victoria University in Melbourne. He has published numerous articles on the representation of bees and insects in literature.

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