John Bruni

John Bruni is Visiting Assistant Professor of American Literature at Grand Valley State University. He has published articles on systems theory, ecocriticism, and literary narratives, and is completing a book manuscript, Scientific Americans: The Making of Popular Science and Evolution in Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture.

Essays by this author

A Riposte to Jeanette McVicker's Thinking With the Planet


In response to Jeanette McVicker’s review of The Planetary Turn, John Bruni examines what it means to theorize a sense of the planetary.

“Persist in Folly”: Review of Mark Greif, The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973.


Afterthoughts on the end of the sixties, the death of the author, the rise of Theory and the fall of humanism.

Watch the Critters: A Reply to Stefan Herbrechter


In this riposte to Herbrechter, John Bruni suggests that the pivot from humanism to posthumanism is not without peril. Thus, Bruni enjoins readers, even as the posthuman discourse incorporates them into its post-anthropocentric milieu, to “watch the critters” as the machine of capitalism trudges ever onward.

Where do we find ourselves? A review of Herbrechter's "Critical Posthumanism"


In his review of Stefan Herbrechter’s Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis, John Bruni addresses the technoscientific and philosophical varieties of posthumanism, and considers the necessity of moving beyond the “dehumanizing” effects of technocentric theories of cultural evolution. This critical project seeks to preserve freedom and agency, rejecting a concept of posthumanism as a side-effect of innovation in favor of one that sees change itself arising from social processes.

Cary Wolfe, Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2013).


John Bruni contends that Cary Wolfe’s latest book “Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame” discusses the “legal issues that inform our relationships with non-human animals.” Bruni writes that in doing so Wolfe dissects the process of law-making and appearing “before the law” as animals, which might be potentially harmful and eclipse the existence of animals beyond the human sphere. According to Bruni what distinguishes Wolfe’s perspective is that he does not promote any form of “ecological self-righteousness” but rather asks the question whether we need to move beyond species-based discourses that constantly pits humans and animals against each other in an essentially unwinnable impasse—to a more ethical approach that may expand the “community of living.”

Thinking Past Ourselves: Ecology and the Ethics of Cross-Species Partnerships


John Bruni evaluates current proposals for animal rights and green capitalism, questioning whether the legal and economic discourse with which the question of animal life as thus far been bound up will ever allow us, as Cary Wolfe proposes, to think past ourselves.

Being Not Us


John Bruni suggests that Cary Wolfe’s new essay collection explores the various cognitive fictions of humanism and carves out a functional role for systems-influenced theory and art.

Review of Stacy Alaimo's Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self


Beginning his review by reflecting on the book’s cover art, John Bruni speculates that a punk aesthetic runs throughout Alaimo’s posthuman environmentalism. Providing brief treatments of each chapter, he argues that the book’s trans-corporeal understanding of the relationship between bodies and places disrupts “the very heart of what we know about ourselves.”