Unruly Microcosms in Contemporary Eco-Fiction


This article theorizes the disruptive epistemic work performed by microcosms in recent eco-fiction. Contemporary fiction often explores large-scale ecological disruption through smaller organisms and environments, enabling readers to perceive the Earth through analogy, allegory and metaphor. Within and against this scale-free reading, I argue that the microcosm has become a fracturing trope that troubles relations between scales. Drawing on fiction by T. C. Boyle, A. S. Byatt, Amitav Ghosh, Ali Smith, and Karen Tei Yamashita, I read the microcosm as a critical tool of Anthropocene awareness, because it foregrounds and questions scalar collapse–the epistemic projection of one scale onto another.

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