Plagues, Poisons, and Dead Rats: A Multispecies History

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Anglo-European history is full of failed attempts to eradicate increasingly global rat populations—primarily through cats and poisons—in the name of human health. Focusing on shipboard rats, this chapter traces some of this history from Robinson Crusoe and eighteenth-century maritime literature to the late nineteenth century, when, after germ theory, the fumigation of incoming ships became best practice. Seeking to bring together animal studies, ecological studies, and the medical humanities, it considers the possibility of a multispecies, ecological approach to our real and imagined “vermin problem”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Animals and Literature
EditorsSusan McHugh, Robert McKay, John Miller
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-39773-9
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-39772-2
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Animals and Literature
ISSN (Print)2634-6338
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6346

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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