"New Crittercism"

This morning I enjoyed listening to Carla Nappi interviewing Graham Burnett about his book The Sounding of the Whale (previously mentioned here) on the New Books in STS podcast. The whole thing is worth the listen, but I was struck by Burnett’s offhand use of the phrase the “new crittercism.” He has used it before, attributing it in Trying Leviathan to “an irreverent colleague.” Today, it called to mind our on-going discussions (begun, more or less, here) about the ways in which environmental history and HOS/STS are growing more closely together. The “new crittercism” marginalizes this trend, it seems to me, for all its charm, while our conversations (HOTeES or HotMeSs) have tended to go in the opposite directions. In the podcast, Burnett distances his book, with the faintest apology, from those that privilege the agency of animals or other non-humans in their narratives.

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