Bacteriology and Modernity: Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology

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Abstract

Around 1900, bacteriology offered a new interpretation of the relationship between the individual and the surrounding world that problematized existing notions about humanity and contributed to the formation of new ones. On the one hand, the public awareness about the ability of bacteria to colonize the body and to proliferate within it gave rise to a wide-spread bacillophobia. On the other, it challenged the anthropocentric world view that had dominated since the Enlightenment. As a symbolic form, the interaction between the human body and bacteria was used conceptually to make sense of a rapidly-changing world, as reflected in the literature of the day. This chapter argues that the “bacterial focus” on the world moved the work of a number of prominent authors towards what can be termed an embodied modernism. From a phenomenological (Mach, Lefebvre), a biopolitical (Esposito), and an ontological perspective (Hird) respectively, it focuses on the interplay between bacillophobia and a dawning post-anthropocentrism in Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Against Nature (1884), Joseph Conrad’s The Nigger of the “Narcissus,” and Mark Twain’s 3,000 Years Among the Microbes (1905).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBodies in Transition in the Health Humanities : Representations of Corporeality
EditorsLisa M. DeTora, Stephanie Hilger
Number of pages11
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge
Publication date2019
Edition1.
Pages97-107
Chapter9
ISBN (Electronic)9781351128742
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Fingerprint

Phenomenology
Biopolitics
Modernity
Bacteria
Ontology
Bacteriology
Joseph Conrad
Anthropocentrism
Ontological
Enlightenment
Nature
Human Body
Anthropocentric
Symbolic Forms
Bio-political
World View
Microbes
Interaction
Mark Twain
Narcissus

Keywords

  • Phenomenology
  • Biopolitics
  • Ontology

Cite this

Jørgensen, J. L. (2019). Bacteriology and Modernity: Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology. In L. M. DeTora, & S. Hilger (Eds.), Bodies in Transition in the Health Humanities: Representations of Corporeality (1. ed., pp. 97-107). London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351128742-9
Jørgensen, Jens Lohfert. / Bacteriology and Modernity : Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology. Bodies in Transition in the Health Humanities: Representations of Corporeality. editor / Lisa M. DeTora ; Stephanie Hilger. 1. ed. London : Routledge, 2019. pp. 97-107
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Jørgensen, JL 2019, Bacteriology and Modernity: Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology. in LM DeTora & S Hilger (eds), Bodies in Transition in the Health Humanities: Representations of Corporeality. 1. edn, Routledge, London, pp. 97-107. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351128742-9

Bacteriology and Modernity : Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology. / Jørgensen, Jens Lohfert.

Bodies in Transition in the Health Humanities: Representations of Corporeality. ed. / Lisa M. DeTora; Stephanie Hilger. 1. ed. London : Routledge, 2019. p. 97-107.

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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Jørgensen JL. Bacteriology and Modernity: Phenomenology, Biopolitics, Ontology. In DeTora LM, Hilger S, editors, Bodies in Transition in the Health Humanities: Representations of Corporeality. 1. ed. London: Routledge. 2019. p. 97-107 https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351128742-9