This book proposes a new general setting for theories of bodies with microstructure when they are described within the scheme of the con- tinuum: besides the usual fields of classical thermomechanics (dis- placement, stress, temperature, etc.) some new fields enter the picture (order parameters, microstress, etc.). The book can be used in a semester course for students who have already followed lectures on the classical theory of continua and is intended as an introduction to special topics: materials with voids, liquid crystals, meromorphic con- tinua. In fact, the content is essentially that of a series of lectures given in 1986 at the Scuola Estiva di Fisica Matematica in Ravello (Italy). I would like to thank the Scientific Committee of the Gruppo di Fisica Matematica of the Italian National Council of Research (CNR) for the invitation to teach in the School. I also thank the Committee for Mathematics of CNR and the National Science Foundation: they have supported my research over many years and given me the opportunity to study the topics presented in this book, in particular through a USA-Italy program initiated by Professor Clifford A. Truesdell.
My interest in the field dates back to a period of collaboration with Paolo Podio-Guidugli and some of the basic ideas came up during our discussions.