Strung Together

The Cultural Currency of String Theory as a Scientific Imaginary
Sean Miller

An examination of the cultural influence of string theory in scientific and popular discourse


In Strung Together: The Cultural Currency of String Theory as a Scientific Imaginary , Sean Miller examines the cultural currency of string theory, both as part of scientific discourse and beyond it. He demonstrates that the imaginative component of string theory is both integral and indispensable to it as a scientific discourse. While mathematical arguments provide precise prompts for physical intervention in the world, the imaginary that supplements mathematical argument within string theory technical discourse allows theorists to imagine themselves interacting with the cosmos as an abstract space in such a way that strings and branes as phenomena become substantiated and legitimized. And it is precisely this sort of imaginary—which Miller calls a scientific imaginary—duly substantiated and acculturated, that survives the move from string theory technical discourse to popularizations and ultimately to popular and literary discourses. In effect, a string theory imaginary legitimizes the science itself and helps to facilitate a virtual domestication of a cosmos that was heretofore remote, alien, and incomprehensible.

"Sean Miller covers wickedly difficult and recondite material with impressive care and aplomb. He proceeds with magnanimity and laudable lack of pretension in rendering comprehensible the hard mathematical physics at hand, the necessity of its trafficking with concrete imageries, and the cultural desires that it feeds in both its devotees and its lay audiences."
—Bruce Clarke, Texas Tech University

Jacket art: Fractal ©iStockphoto/hlehnerer.

Sean Miller is a postdoctoral fellow in contemporary literature at Nanyang Technological University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Miller's close readings of both technical papers and lively mass-market books are informative and interesting. He provides useful histories of the development of the theory, and draws out of the technical papers the mechanisms at work in the rhetorical appeals to the experience of familiar objects in order to represent hypothetical entities at scales of magnitude far beyond the reach of human perception."
    --Peter Middleton, British Society for Literature and Science

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 264pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2013
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11866-3

Add to Cart
  • $59.95 U.S.

Related Products



  • string theory, superstring, theoretical physics, cosmology, literature and science, science studies, scientific imaginary, philosophy of science, quantum theory, general relativity, extra dimension