I recently received an email from someone wanting to get into Michel Serres’s writing in English translation, and asking where to start. Here are some thoughts, to which I hope to add over time. The suggestions of primary and secondary material below are not meant tobe exhaustive, but to provide a jumping off point for people coming to Serres’s work for the first time, or wanting to dive deeper into his thought. If you think I’ve missed anything important, drop me an email or post a comment below.
Summary. Where should I start?
- If you want to ease yourself in with a tasting menu of Serresian thought that’s relatively easy to access, start twith Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time.
- If you are really serious and want to get deeply into Serres’s thought, and if you read French, then you have to start with Le Système de Leibniz et ses modèles mathématiques.It’s his Of Grammatology, The Order of Things or Difference and Repetition.
- If you are coming to Serres with an interest in ecology, sustainability or ecophilosophy, start with The Natural Contractand then read Malefeasance and Biogea.
- If you are comfortable with reading modern and contemporary French philosophy, and you want to see how Serres offers us new ways of thinking, devour The Parasite.
- The Parasite is the place to start for Serres and posthumanism as well, followed by Hominescence, The Incandescentand Branches.
- If you’re a theologian, start with Statues and Angels: A Modern Myth.
- If education or cross-disciplinarity are your thing, pick up a copy of The Troubadour of Knowledge.
- If you are interested in Serres’s ontology, or fluid dynamics and information theory, grab The Birth of Physics.
- If you are interested in the body and sense experience, go for The Five Sensesand then Variations on the Body.
If you want five key publications that will give you as near as possible the full “Serres package” in English translation, here’s what I would read: 1) Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy, 2) The Birth of Physics, 3) The Parasite, 4) The Five Senses, 5) The Natural Contract.