Artifacts and Illuminations


Artifacts and Illuminations

Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley

Edited and with an introduction by Tom Lynch and Susan N. Maher

364 pages


April 2012


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April 2012


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Loren Eiseley (1907–77) is one of the most important American nature writers of the twentieth century and an admired practitioner of creative nonfiction. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Eiseley was a professor of anthropology and a prolific writer and poet who worked to bring an understanding of science to the general public, incorporating religion, philosophy, and science into his explorations of the human mind and the passage of time.

As a writer who bridged the sciences and the humanities, Eiseley is a challenge for scholars locked into rigid disciplinary boundaries. Artifacts and Illuminations, the first full-length collection of critical essays on the writing of Eiseley, situates his work in the genres of creative nonfiction and nature writing. The contributing scholars apply a variety of critical approaches, including ecocriticism and place-oriented studies ranging across prairie, urban, and international contexts. Contributors explore such diverse topics as Eiseley’s use of anthropomorphism and Jungian concepts and examine how his work was informed by synecdoche. Long overdue, this collection demonstrates Eiseley’s continuing relevance as both a skilled literary craftsman and a profound thinker about the human place in the natural world.

Author Bio

Tom Lynch is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of Xerophilia: Ecocritical Explorations in Southwestern Literature. Susan N. Maher is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She is coeditor of John McPhee and the Art of Literary Nonfiction.


"Past and future readings of Eiseley have been illuminated by this profound and expansive collection of essays. Anyone with a fondness for Eiseley or the journey of the American nature writing tradition will find Artifacts and Illuminations of immense interest."—Frank Izaguirre, Ecozon@

Table of Contents



      Tom Lynch and Susan N. Maher

1. "The Bay of Broken Things": The Experience of Loss in the Work of Loren Eiseley

      Susan Hanson

2. "Never Going to Cease My Wandering": Loren Eiseley and the American Hobo

      M. Catherine Downs

3. "The Places Below": Mapping the Invisible Universe in Loren Eiseley's Plains Essays

      Susan N. Maher

4. Unearthing Urban Nature: Loren Eiseley's Explorations of City and Suburb

      Michael A. Bryson

5. Anthropomorphizing the Essay: Loren Eiseley's Representations of Animals

      Kathleen Boardman

6. "The Borders between Us": Loren Eiseley's Ecopoetics

      Tom Lynch

7. Lessons of an Interdisciplinary Life: Loren Eiseley's Rhetoric of Profundity in Popular Science Writing and "Two Cultures" Pedagogy

      Pamela Gossin

8. Artifact and Idea: Loren Eiseley's Poetic Undermining of C. P. Snow

      Mary Ellen Pitts

9. The Spirit of Synecdoche: Order and Chaos Contend in the Metaphors of Loren Eiseley

      Jacqueline Cason

10. In a Dark Wood: Dante, Eiseley, and the Ecology of Redemption

      Anthony Lioi

11. Emerson and Eiseley: Two Religious Visions

      Jonathan Weidenbaum

12. Epic Narratives of Evolution: John Burroughs and Loren Eiseley

      Stephen Mercier

13. Eiseley and Jung: Structuralism's Invisible Pyramid

      John Nizalowski

14. From the American Great Plains to the Steppes of Russia: Loren Eiseley Transplanted

      Dimitri N. Breschinsky

Works Cited




2013 Nebraska Book Award winner in Anthology 

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