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Earth (Object Lessons)


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Table of Contents

1. Prologue: Genesis 2. Orbit 3. Ground (Why Earth?) 4. Scale (Barriers to Understanding) 5. Radiance (Earth's beauty) 6. Gravity (Earth's Pull) 7. Interlude: A Hike Around Piestewa Peak 8. Imagination List of Illustrations Notes Index

Promotional Information

A literary scholar and a planetary scientist look at the Earth as object, viewed from the outside, and as a singular orb that is a challenge to scale and human self-importance.

About the Author

Jeffrey Jerone Cohen is Dean of Humanities at Arizona State University, USA, and co-president of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment. He is the author or editor of 13 books, including Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (which received the 2017 Rene Wellek Prize for best book in comparative literature). Linda T. Elkins-Tanton is Foundation Professor and Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, USA. She is the author of a six-book series The Solar System (1st edition 2006; 2nd edition 2010) and co-editor, with A. Schmidt and K. Fristad, of Volcanism and Global Environmental Change (2015). Her articles have been published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Nature Geoscience, Nature, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Astrophysical Journal, among other publications.


[An] alchemy of unlikely ideas ... [The authors] reflect on the geological history of the earth and humanity's understanding of it over the millennia. * Sydney Morning Herald *
Earth is a magical, unusual, curious book ... Cohen and Elkins-Tanton describe it as a "little book about an impossibly large subject." This subject is made even larger by Cohen and Elkins-Tanton's forays into discussions of beauty, creativity, and imagination (including my favorite question in the book: "Can you die from an overactive imagination?") and how they connect to science and ultimately this planet. This makes Earth a book that is, ultimately, a testament to what can be discovered if we are brave enough to combine the unexpected. * PopMatters *
Learning from this volume as a reader means ... not only to participate in a conversation between specialists from two disciplines, but also to do so across different modes of expression, and experimenting together with the two authors in an innovative and completely unique creative space. Different readers (and reviewers) will learn different things from this handsome (it just about fits in an adult's hand) and beautifully designed volume ... What surprised me was how 'realistic' the object lesson became for me as a scholar because of the multiple narrative modes and tones in which it is written. The fragmentary mix of subjective impressions and scientific factoids all of us sedulously collect before we force them into linear narratives are all discernible as patterns in a rich and open ended fabric. * Medievally Speaking *
Earth is ambitious, thought-provoking and inspirational, conversationally written between two dissimilar but very complementary viewpoints. In this great age of exoplanetary discovery, it makes me wonder how unique our wonderful home planet really is. * Scott Parazynski, MD, University Explorer and Professor at Arizona State University, USA, and NASA Astronaut (retired) *
As much as the mindsets of a distinguished planetary scientist and a medieval studies professor differ, it is what they share in common when thinking about that object so dear to all of us, the Earth, that is so fascinating. What this delightful and informative book ultimately demonstrates is that the humanity of science itself offers untold fuel for the humanities to ponder our existence. The Object of this book, the Earth, is at once more interesting and better off because both of these scholars chose to write about it. * Lawrence M. Krauss, theoretical physicist and author of A Universe from Nothing and The Greatest Story Ever Told-So Far *
Gorgeous ... The book's words and images can't quite banish scale's disorienting shifts, but interweaving planet-sized ideas with human words and emotions opens doors ... I'm struck not so much by the disparity of [the authors'] fields as their shared curiosity and commitment to generative and generous thinking. * The Bookfish *

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