Cities are often thought to be separate from nature, but recent trends in ecocriticism demand that we consider them as part of the total environment. This new collection of essays sharpens the focus on the nature of cities by exploring the facets of an urban ecocriticism, by reminding city dwellers of their place in ecosystems, and by emphasizing the importance of this connection in understanding urban life and culture.
The editors—both raised in small towns but now living in major urban areas—are especially concerned with the sociopolitical construction of all environments, both natural and manmade. Following an opening interview with Andrew Ross exploring the general parameters of urban ecocriticism, they present essays that explore urban nature writing, city parks, urban "wilderness," ecofeminism and the city, and urban space. The volume includes contributions on topics as wide-ranging as the urban poetry of English writers from Donne to Gay, the manufactured wildness of a gambling casino, and the marketing of cosmetics to urban women by idealizing Third World "naturalness." These essays seek to reconceive nature and its cultural representations in ways that contribute to understanding the contemporary cityscape. They explore the theoretical issues that arise when one attempts to adopt and adapt an environmental perspective for analyzing urban life.
The Nature of Cities offers the ecological component often missing from cultural analyses of the city and the urban perspective often lacking in environmental approaches to contemporary culture. By bridging the historical gap between environmentalism, cultural studies, and urban experience, the book makes a statement of lasting importance to the development of the ecocritical movement.