Hailey Dansby

Hailey Dansby

Scuttling into the Margins: an examination of insects in literary fiction


Hailey Dansby


Dr. Terry Harpold


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Within the history that humans have shared with insects, we have been transfixed, repulsed, fearful, and studiously neglectful of them. Insects have found their way into our imaginations and into our stories (Motte-Florac). Our mixed responses to them can be easily explained; insects are vastly different from us, yet they are prolific and nearly omnipresent in our lives, and because of this, strangely mundane. But they are also powerful: they can easily wreak havoc on our lives either by their presence or absence. Insects, in our mind, are marked overtly by uncanny alterity; they comprise a world so strange that we must chew it up repeatedly to digest it (Drouin). In this project I will investigate the role of insects as alternative markers of agency in fiction. Although insects cross our paths every day and are fundamental to the ecosystems that sustain us, their presence is often unmarked in fiction or they are hyperbolically figured into aggressive opponents. In both senses, insects are left to scuttle mostly in the margins of literary consciousness. My research identifies the insect traits that make them significant in literature (evolution, size, social structures) and explores their roles as Instructors, Monstrous Others, and the Hive-Mind in the chosen primary texts. I seek to answer the question of when we encounter insects in literary fiction, why are they really there?


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Research Pitch

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