Ants, Myrmecology and Metaphor

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


This chapter explores the Western human concepts, ideas and fears which seem to be enabled and enacted by ants, and considers the nature of transactions between humans and ants in their shared occupation of Earth. In literature and culture, ant- and anthill-shaped imaginative forms operate as a trope which figures human political and social organisation, including utopia and dystopia, and analogises questions about how humans live as social creatures. This chapter reads four novels—E.O. Wilson’s Anthill, Carol Hart’s A History of the Novel in Ants, Jonathan Taylor’s Entertaining Strangers, and A.S. Byatt’s ‘Morpho Eugenia’—to consider how they analogise ants and humans, and to consider how scientific knowledge about ants mediates these metaphorical connections and distinctions.


Anthill Creatures Supercolonies Grand Inquisitor Social Conquest 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of English and JournalismUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

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