Although much contemporary American Indian literature examines the relationship between humans and the land, most Native authors do not set their work in the "pristine wilderness" celebrated by mainstream nature writers. Instead, they focus on settings such as reservations, open-pit mines, and contested borderlands. Drawing on her own teaching experience among Native Americans and on lessons learned from such recent scenes of confrontation as Chiapas and Black Mesa, Joni Adamson explores why what counts as "nature" is often very different for multicultural writers and activist groups than it is for mainstream environmentalists.
This powerful book is one of the first to examine the intersections between literature and the environment from the perspective of the oppressions of race, class, gender, and nature, and the first to review American Indian literature from the standpoint of environmental justice and ecocriticism. By examining such texts as Sherman Alexie's short stories and Leslie Marmon Silko's novel Almanac of the Dead, Adamson contends that these works, in addition to being literary, are examples of ecological criticism that expand Euro-American concepts of nature and place.
Adamson shows that when we begin exploring the differences that shape diverse cultural and literary representations of nature, we discover the challenge they present to mainstream American culture, environmentalism, and literature. By comparing the work of Native authors such as Simon Ortiz with that of environmental writers such as Edward Abbey, she reveals opportunities for more multicultural conceptions of nature and the environment.
More than a work of literary criticism, this is a book about the search to find ways to understand our cultural and historical differences and similarities in order to arrive at a better agreement of what the human role in nature is and should be. It exposes the blind spots in early ecocriticism and shows the possibilities for building common ground— a middle place— where writers, scholars, teachers, and environmentalists might come together to work for social and environmental change.
Literary scholars have traditionally understood landscapes, whether natural or manmade, as metaphors for humanity instead of concrete settings for people's actions. This book accepts the natural world as such by investigating how Anglo-Saxons interacted with and conceived of their lived environments. Examining Old English poems, such as Beowulf and Judith, as well as descriptions of natural events from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and other documentary texts, Heide Estes shows that Anglo-Saxon ideologies which view nature as diametrically opposed to humans, and the natural world as designed for human use, have become deeply embedded in our cultural heritage, language, and more.
How poetry can help us think about and live in the Anthropocene by reframing our intimate relationship with geological time
The Anthropocene describes how humanity has radically intruded into deep time, the vast timescales that shape the Earth system and all life-forms that it supports. The challenge it poses—how to live in our present moment alongside deep pasts and futures—brings into sharp focus the importance of grasping the nature of our intimate relationship with geological time. In Anthropocene Poetics, David Farrier shows how contemporary poetry by Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Evelyn Reilly, and Christian Bök, among others, provides us with frameworks for thinking about this uncanny sense of time.
Looking at a diverse array of lyric and avant-garde poetry from three interrelated perspectives—the Anthropocene and the “material turn” in environmental philosophy; the Plantationocene and the role of global capitalism in environmental crisis; and the emergence of multispecies ethics and extinction studies—Farrier rethinks the environmental humanities from a literary critical perspective. Anthropocene Poetics puts a concern with deep time at the center, defining a new poetics for thinking through humanity’s role as geological agents, the devastation caused by resource extraction, and the looming extinction crisis.
Talking lions, philosophical bears, very hungry caterpillars, wise spiders, altruistic trees, companionable moles, urbane elephants: this is the magnificent menagerie that delights our children at bedtime. Within the entertaining pages of many children’s books, however, also lie profound teachings about the natural world that can help children develop an educated and engaged appreciation of the dynamic environment they inhabit.
In Beasts at Bedtime, scientist (and father) Liam Heneghan examines the environmental underpinnings of children’s stories. From Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter, Heneghan unearths the universal insights into our inextricable relationship with nature that underlie so many classic children’s stories. Some of the largest environmental challenges in coming years—from climate instability, the extinction crisis, freshwater depletion, and deforestation—are likely to become even more severe as this generation of children grows up. Though today’s young readers will bear the brunt of these environmental calamities, they will also be able to contribute to environmental solutions if prepared properly. And all it takes is an attentive eye: Heneghan shows how the nature curriculum is already embedded in bedtime stories, from the earliest board books like The Rainbow Fish to contemporary young adult classics like The Hunger Games.
Beasts at Bedtime is an awakening to the vital environmental education children’s stories can provide—from the misadventures of The Runaway Bunny to more overt tales like The Lorax. Heneghan serves as our guide, drawing richly upon his own adolescent and parental experiences, as well as his travels in landscapes both experienced and imagined. Organized into thematic sections, the work winds its way through literary forests, colorful characters, and global environments.
This book enthralls as it engages. Heneghan as a guide is as charming as he is insightful, showing how kids (and adults) can start to experience the natural world in incredible ways from the comfort of their own rooms. Beasts at Bedtime will help parents, teachers, and guardians extend those cozy times curled up together with a good book into a lifetime of caring for our planet.
East Asian literatures are famous for celebrating the beauties of nature and depicting people as intimately connected with the natural world. But in fact, because the region has a long history of transforming and exploiting nature, much of the fiction and poetry in the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages portrays people as damaging everything from small woodlands to the entire planet. These texts seldom talk about environmental crises straightforwardly. Instead, like much creative writing on degraded ecosystems, they highlight what Karen Laura Thornber calls ecoambiguity—the complex, contradictory interactions between people and the nonhuman environment.
Ecoambiguity is the first book in any language to analyze Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese literary treatments of damaged ecosystems. Thornber closely examines East Asian creative portrayals of inconsistent human attitudes, behaviors, and information concerning the environment and takes up texts by East Asians who have been translated and celebrated around the world, including Gao Xingjian, Ishimure Michiko, Jiang Rong, and Ko Un, as well as fiction and poetry by authors little known even in their homelands. Ecoambiguity addresses such environmental crises as deforesting, damming, pollution, overpopulation, species eradication, climate change, and nuclear apocalypse. This book opens new portals of inquiry in both East Asian literatures and ecocriticism (literature and environment studies), as well as in comparative and world literature.
Ecofeminist Literary Criticism is the first collection of its
kind: a diverse anthology that explores both how ecofeminism can enrich
literary criticism and how literary criticism can contribute to ecofeminist
theory and activism.
Ecofeminism is a practical movement for social change that discerns interconnections
among all forms of oppression: the exploitation of nature, the oppression
of women, class exploitation, racism, colonialism. Against binary divisions
such as self/other, culture/nature, man/woman, humans/animals, and white/non-white,
ecofeminist theory asserts that human identity is shaped by more fluid
relationships and by an acknowledgment of both connection and difference.
Once considered the province of philosophy and women's studies, ecofeminism
in recent years has been incorporated into a broader spectrum of academic
discourse. Ecofeminist Literary Criticism assembles some of the
most insightful advocates of this perspective to illuminate ecofeminism
as a valuable component of literary criticism.
With roots in eugenics and other social-control programs, modern American environmentalism is not always as progressive as we would like to think. In The Ecological Other, Sarah Jaquette Ray examines the ways in which environmentalism can create social injustice through discourses of the body.
Ray investigates three categories of ecological otherness: people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans. Extending recent work in environmental justice ecocriticism, Ray argues that the expression of environmental disgust toward certain kinds of bodies draws problematic lines between ecological “subjects”—those who are good for and belong in nature—and ecological “others”—those who are threats to or out of place in nature. Ultimately, The Ecological Other urges us to be more critical of how we use nature as a tool of social control and to be careful about the ways in which we construct our arguments to ensure its protection.
The book challenges long-standing assumptions in environmentalism and will be of interest to those in environmental literature and history, American studies, disability studies, and Native American studies, as well as anyone concerned with issues of environmental justice.
The poems of Wallace Stevens teem with birds: grackles, warblers, doves, swans, nightingales, owls, peacocks, and one famous blackbird who summons thirteen ways of looking. What do Stevens’s evocations of birds, and his poems more generally, tell us about the relationship between human and nonhuman? In this book, the noted theorist of posthumanism Cary Wolfe argues for a philosophical and theoretical reinvention of ecological poetics, using Stevens as a test case.
Stevens, Wolfe argues, is an ecological poet in the sense that his places, worlds, and environments are co-created by the life forms that inhabit them. Wolfe argues for a “nonrepresentational” conception of ecopoetics, showing how Stevens’s poems reward study alongside theories of system, environment, and observation derived from a multitude of sources, from Ralph Waldo Emerson and Niklas Luhmann to Jacques Derrida and Stuart Kauffman. Ecological Poetics is an ambitious interdisciplinary undertaking involving literary criticism, contemporary philosophy, and theoretical biology.
In The Ecology of Modernism, Joshua Schuster examines the relationships of key modernist writers, poets, and musicians to nature, industrial development, and pollution. He posits that the curious failure of modernist poets to develop an environmental ethic was a deliberate choice and not an inadvertent omission.
In his opening passage, Schuster boldly invokes lines from Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” which echo as a paean to pollution: “Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at nightfall!” Schuster labels this theme “regeneration through pollution” and demonstrates how this motif recurs in modernist compositions. This tolerance for, if not actual exultation of, the by-products of industrialization hindered modernist American artists, writers, and musicians from embracing environmentalist agendas.
Schuster provides specific case studies focusing on Marianne Moore and her connection of fables with animal rights; Gertrude Stein and concepts of nature in her avant-garde poetics; early blues music and poetry and the issue of how environmental disasters (floods, droughts, pestilence) affected black farmers and artists in the American South; and John Cage, who extends the modernist avant-garde project formally but critiques it at the same time for failing to engage with ecology. A fascinating afterword about the role of oil in modernist literary production rounds out this work.
Schuster masterfully shines a light on the modernist interval between the writings of bucolic and nature-extolling Romantics and the emergence of a self-conscious green movement in the 1960s. This rewarding work shows that the reticence of modernist poets in the face of resource depletion, pollution, animal rights, and other ecological traumas is highly significant.
Cultures have long defined themselves through biological elements to prove their strength and longevity, from cherry blossoms in Japan to amber waves of grain in the United States. In Ecology without Culture, Christine L. Marran introduces the concept of biotropes—material and semiotic figures that exist for human perception—to navigate how and why the material world has proven to be such an effective medium for representing culture. A bold and timely reconsideration of ecocriticism, Ecology without Culture insists on decentering questions of culture to highlight the materiality of poetry, film, and prose fiction.
Marran argues that ecocriticism can critique ecological realities more effectively from outside the frame of human exceptionalism. Through discussions of primarily non-Anglophone literature, poetry, and cinema about toxic events in contemporary history— from the depiction of slow violence in documentary by Tsuchimoto Noriaki to the powerful poetry of Ishimure Michiko—Marran argues that ecocriticism must find a way to engage culture without making the perpetuation of ethnos and anthropos the endgame of ecopolitics.
Using the biological foundations and geological time scales of textual worlds to more deeply critique cultural humanism, Marran ultimately contends that the chief stumbling block to ecological thinking is not the image of nature, but the image of culture.
Ecopoetics: Essays in the Field
Angela Hume and Gillian Osborne University of Iowa Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS310.N3E36 2018 | Dewey Decimal 811.5093553
Ecopoetics: Essays in the Field makes a formidable intervention into the emerging field of ecopoetics. The volume’s essays model new and provocative methods for reading twentieth and twenty-first century ecological poetry and poetics, drawing on the insights of ecocriticism, contemporary philosophy, gender and sexuality studies, black studies, Native studies, critical race theory, and disability studies, among others.
Contributors offer readings of a diverse range of poets, few of whom have previously been read as nature writers—from midcentury Beat poet Michael McClure, Objectivist poet George Oppen, and African American poets Melvin Tolson and Robert Hayden; to contemporary writers such as Diné poet Sherwin Bitsui, hybrid/ collage poets Claudia Rankine and Evelyn Reilly, emerging QPOC poet Xandria Phillips, and members of the Olimpias disability culture artists’ collective. While addressing preconceptions about the categories of nature writing and ecopoetics, contributors explore, challenge, and reimagine concepts that have been central to environmental discourse, from apocalypse and embodiment to toxicity and sustainability.
This collection of essays makes the compelling argument that ecopoetics should be read as “coextensive with post-1945 poetry and poetics,” rather than as a subgenre or movement within it. It is essential reading for any student or scholar working on contemporary literature or in the environmental humanities today.
Contributors: Joshua Bennett, Rob Halpern, Matt Hooley, Angela Hume, Lynn Keller, Petra Kuppers, Michelle Niemann, Gillian Osborne, Samia Rahimtoola, Joan Retallack, Joshua Schuster, Jonathan Skinner.
Ecocritics and other literary scholars interested in the environment have tended to examine writings that pertain directly to nature and to focus on subject matter more than expression. In this book, Scott Knickerbocker argues that it is time for the next step in ecocriticism: scholars need to explore the figurative and aural capacity of language to evoke the natural world in powerful ways. Ecopoetics probes the complex relationship between artifice and the natural world in the work of modern American poets—in particular Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Richard Wilbur, and Sylvia Plath. These poets relate to nature as a deep wellspring of meaning, although they all avoid using language the way most nature writers do, merely to reflect or refer directly to the world. Each of these poets, in his or her own distinct way, employs instead what Knickerbocker terms sensuous poesis, the process of rematerializing language through sound effects and other formal devices as a sophisticated response to nonhuman nature. Rather than attempt to erase the artifice of their own poems, to make them seem more natural and thus supposedly closer to nature, the poets in this book unapologetically embrace artifice—not for its own sake but in order to perform and enact the natural world. Indeed, for them, artifice is natural. In examining their work, Knickerbocker charts a new direction for ecocriticism.
The burgeoning field of ecocriticism is beginning to address the work of such ecopoets as Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, W. S. Merwin, and Wendell Berry, among others, whose poems increasingly deal with ecological and environmental issues. Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction assembles previously unpublished contributions from many of the most important scholars in the field as they discuss the historical and crosscultural roots of ecopoetry, while expanding the boundaries to include such themes as genocide and extinction, the lesbian body, and post colonialism. This volume gathers these necessary voices in the emerging conversation regarding poetry’s place in the environmental debate.
Lee Rozelle probes the metaphor of environmental catastrophe in American literature of the last 150 years. In each instance, Rozelle finds evidence that the ecosublime--nature experienced as an instance of wonder and fear--profoundly reflects spiritual and political responses to the natural world, America’s increasingly anti-ecological trajectory, and the ascendance of a post-natural landscape.
In the 19th century, Rozelle argues, Isabella Bird and Edgar Allan Poe represented the western wilderness as culturally constructed and idealized landscapes. Gardens, forests, and frontiers are conceptual frameworks that either misrepresent or uphold ecological space. Modernists like Nathanael West and William Carlos Williams, on the other hand, portray urban space as either wastelands or mythical urban gardens. A chapter on Charles W. Chesnutt and Rebecca Harding Davis analyzes a new breed of literary eco-advocate, educating and shocking mainstream readers through depictions of ecological disaster. A later chapter probes the writings of Edward Abbey and the Unabomber Manifesto to delve into the sublime dimensions of environmental activism, monkey-wrenching, and eco-terrorism.
Environment at the Margins brings literary and environmental studies into a robust interdisciplinary dialogue, challenging dominant ideas about nature, conservation, and development in Africa and exploring alternative narratives offered by writers and environmental thinkers. The essays bring together scholarship in geography, anthropology, and environmental history with the study of African and colonial literatures and with literary modes of analysis. Contributors analyze writings by colonial administrators and literary authors, as well as by such prominent African activists and writers as Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mia Couto, Nadine Gordimer, Wangari Maathai, J. M. Coetzee, Zakes Mda, and Ben Okri. These postcolonial ecocritical readings focus on dialogue not only among disciplines but also among different visions of African environments. In the process, Environment at the Margins posits the possibility of an ecocriticism that will challenge and move beyond marginalizing, limiting visions of an imaginary Africa.
David McDermott Hughes
Roderick P. Neumann
Until now, much scholarly work on Burroughs has focused on the sensational aspects of his life and on his innovative writing. The Green Ghost, by Chad Weidner, uncovers the ecological context of literary texts by William Burroughs. By rereading canonical and ignored texts while pushing the boundaries of ecocritical theory and practice, Weidner provides a fresh perspective on Burroughs and suggests new theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding the work of other Beat writers.
Using an ecocritical lens, Weidner explores the toxicity in Naked Lunch while at the same time teasing out latent ecological questions embedded in Burroughs’ later works. The author’s analysis of unknown and miniature “cut-ups,” texts that have been disassembled and rearranged to create new passages, provides a novel understanding of these cryptic forms. Weidner also examines in detail books by Burroughs that have been virtually ignored by critics, exposing the deep ecology of the Beat writer’s vision.
In calling attention to Burroughs’s narrative strategies that link him to an environmental political position, The Green Ghost demonstrates that the work of the Beat writer is a ripe source for ecocritical dialogue.
Science fiction goes green? Eric C. Otto explores literary science fiction’s engagement with a central concern of our times: ecological degradation. Situated at the intersection of science fiction studies and environmental philosophy, Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism highlights key works of environmental science fiction that critique various human values for their roles in instigating such degradation.
The books receiving ecocritical treatment in Green Speculations include George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides (1949), Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965), Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World Is Forest (1972), Joan Slonczewski’s A Door into Ocean (1986), Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy (1993, 1994, 1996), and Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl (2009). Otto reads these and other important science fiction novels as educative in their representations of environmental issues and the environmental philosophies that have emerged in response to them.
Green Speculations demonstrates how environmental science fiction can be read not only as reflecting the ideas of environmental philosophies such as deep ecology, ecofeminism, and ecosocialism, but also as instrumental in thinking through the tenets of these philosophies. As such, the book places science fiction at the center of environmentalism and considers the genre to be an essential tool for prompting needed social and cultural transformation.
This work covers important and neglected ground—environmental language theory. Gilcrest poses two overarching questions: To what extent does contemporary nature poetry represent a recapitulation of familiar poetics? And, to what extent does contemporary nature poetry engage a poetics that stakes out new territory? He addresses these questions with important thinkers, especially Kenneth Burke, and considers such poets as Frost, Kunitz, Heaney, Ammons, Cardenal, and Rich.
When the Puritans arrived in the New World to carry out the colonization they saw as divinely mandated, they were confronted by the American wilderness. Part of their theology led them to view the natural environment as “a temple of God” in which they should glorify and serve its creator. The larger prevailing theological view, however, saw this vast continent as “the Devil’s Territories” needing to be conquered and cultivated for God’s Kingdom. These contradictory designations gave rise to an ambivalence regarding the character of this land and humanity’s proper relation to it.
Loving God’s Wildness rediscovers the environmental roots of America’s Puritan heritage. In tracing this history, Jeffrey Bilbro demonstrates how the dualistic Christianity that the Puritans brought to America led them to see the land as an empty wilderness that God would turn into a productive source of marketable commodities. Bilbro carefully explores the effect of this dichotomy in the nature writings of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Willa Cather, and Wendell Berry.
Thoreau, Muir, Cather, and Berry imaginatively developed the Puritan theological tradition to propose practical, physical means by which humans should live and worship within the natural temple of God’s creation. They reshaped Puritan dualism, each according to the particular needs of his or her own ecological and cultural contexts, into a theology that demands care for the entire created community. While differing in their approaches and respective ecological ethics, the four authors Bilbro examines all share the conviction that God remains active in creation and that humans ought to relinquish their selfish ends to participate in his wild ecology.
Loving God’s Wildness fills a critical gap in literary criticism and environmental studies by offering a sustained, detailed argument regarding how Christian theology has had a profound and enduring legacy in shaping the contours of the American ecological imagination. Literary critics, scholars of religion and environmental studies, and thoughtful Christians who are concerned about environmental issues will profit from this engaging new book.
Metabolizing Capital outlines a critical ecological framework to guide the theorization of writing and rhetoric in the dynamic contexts of Web 3.0 and environmental crisis.
The rise of the global cloud and the internet-of-things have ushered in a new stage of the internet that marks a transition from the celebrated user-generated content of Web 2.0 to the data-driven networks of Web 3.0. As social media networks have expanded, so has the amount of writing and communication we do online. This has created several valuable sub-layers of data and metadata about consumer-citizens that corporations and governments now routinely collect, store, and monetize. This frenzy to collect more data is contributing to several problematic social and environmental concerns as flows of information and capital dangerously accelerate how energy and matter move through ecosystems at every scale.
This book explores the planetary consequences of Web 3.0 and the vital role that writing and data production play in accelerating capital circulation, from concerns raised by the growing energy demands of the information industries, to growing streams of electronic waste, to the growing socioeconomic tensions arising as a result of information monopolies.
A posthuman, Marxist analysis of digital culture and writing, Metabolizing Capital contributes to and challenges current understandings of rhetorical agency and actor networks. Combining scholarship from writing studies, rhetoric, and composition with research in metabolic ecology, information theory, media studies, cognitive psychology, history, and new materialism, this book should be of interest to scholars in writing studies as well as others who study digital culture, ecological literacies, the history of writing and information, big data, and environmental concerns related to electronics and the information industries.
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. CONTENTS Part 1—The Nature of Cities
1. Urban Ecocriticism: An Introduction, Michael Bennett & David Teague
2. The Social Claim on Urban Ecology, Andrew Ross (interviewed by Michael Bennett) Part 2—Urban Nature Writing
3. London Here and Now: Walking, Streets, and Urban Environments in English Poetry from Donne to Gay, Gary Roberts
4. "All Things Natural Are Strange": Audre Lorde, Urban Nature, and Cultural Place, Kathleen R. Wallace
5. Inculcating Wildness: Ecocomposition, Nature Writing, and the Regreening of the American Suburb, Terrell Dixon Part 3—City Parks
6. Writers and Dilettantes: Central Park and the Literary Origins of Antebellum Urban Nature, Adam W. Sweeting
7. Postindustrial Park or Bourgeois Playground? Preservation and Urban Restructuring at Seattle's Gas Works Park, Richard Heyman Part 4—Urban "Wilderness"
8. Boyz in the Woods: Urban Wilderness in American Cinema, Andrew Light
9. Central High and the Suburban Landscape: The Ecology of White Flight, David Teague
10. Manufacturing the Ghetto: Anti-urbanism and the Spatialization of Race, Michael Bennett Part 5—Ecofeminism and the City
11. An Ecofeminist Perspective on the Urban Environment, Catherine Villanueva Gardner
12. "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman": The Political Economy of Contemporary Cosmetics Discourse, Laura L. Sullivan Part 6—Theorizing Urban Space
13. Darwin's City, or Life Underground: Evolution, Progress, and the Shapes of Things to Come, Joanne Gottlieb
14. Nature in the Apartment: Humans, Pets, and the Value of Incommensurability, David R. Shumway
15. Cosmology in the Casino: Simulacra of Nature in the Interiorized Wilderness, Michael P. Branch
"Amid gloomy forecasts of the decline of the humanities and the death of poetry, Angus Fletcher, a wise and dedicated literary voice, sounds a note of powerful, tempered optimism. He lays out a fresh approach to American poetry at large, the first in several decades, expounding a defense of the art that will resonate well into the new century.
Breaking with the tired habit of treating American poets as the happy or rebellious children of European romanticism, Fletcher uncovers a distinct lineage for American poetry. His point of departure is the fascinating English writer, John Clare; he then centers on the radically American vision expressed by Emerson and Walt Whitman. With Whitman this book insists that ""the whole theory and nature of poetry"" needs inspiration from science if it is to achieve a truly democratic vista. Drawing variously on Complexity Theory and on fundamentals of art and grammar, Fletcher argues that our finest poetry is nature-based, environmentally shaped, and descriptive in aim, enabling poets like John Ashbery and other contemporaries to discover a mysterious pragmatism.
Intense, resonant, and deeply literary, this account of an American poetics shows how today's consumerist and conformist culture subverts the imagination of a free people. While centering on American vision, the argument extends our horizon, striking a blow against all economically sanctioned attacks upon the finer, stronger human capacities. Poetry, the author maintains, is central to any coherent vision of life. "
In the summer of 1903, just before he turned twenty-four, Wallace Stevens joined a six-week hunting expedition to the wilderness of British Columbia. The adventure profoundly influenced his conceptions of language and silence, his symbolic geography, and his sensibilities toward wild nature as nonhuman “other.” The rugged western mountains came to represent that promontory of experience—“green's green apogee”—against which Stevens would measure the reality of all his later perceptions and conceptions and by which he would judge the purpose and value of works of the human imagination. Notations of the Wild views his poetry as a radical reimagining of the nature/culture dialectic and a reinstatement of its forgotten term—Nature.
Gyorgyi Voros focuses on three governing metaphors in Stevens' poems—Nature as house, Nature as body, and Nature as self. She argues that Stevens' youthful wilderness experience yielded his primary subject—the relationship between human beings and nonhuman nature—and that it spurred his shift from a romantic to a phenomenological understanding of nature. Most important, it prompted him to reject his culture's narrow humanism in favor of a singular vision that in today's terms would he deemed ecological.
Placing John Haines
James Perrin Warren University of Alaska Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3558.A33Z89 2017 | Dewey Decimal 811.54
John Haines arrived in Alaska, fresh out of the Navy, in 1947, and established a homestead seventy miles southeast of Fairbanks. He stayed there nearly twenty-five years, learning to live off the country: hunting, trapping, fishing, gathering berries, and growing vegetables. Those years formed him as a writer—the interior of Alaska, and especially its boreal forest—marking his poetry and prose and helping him find his unique voice.
Placing John Haines, the first book-length study of his work, tells the story of those years, but also of his later, itinerant life, as his success as a writer led him to hold fellowships and teach at universities across the country. James Perrin Warren draws out the contradictions inherent in that biography—that this poet so indelibly associated with place, and authentic belonging, spent decades in motion—and also sets Haines’s work in the context of contemporaries like Robert Bly, Donald Hall, and his close friend Wendell Berry. The resulting portrait shows us a poet who was regularly reinventing himself, and thereby generating creative tension that fueled his unforgettable work. A major study of a sadly neglected master, Placing John Haines puts his achievement in compelling context.
A provocative new way to read and interpret the classic works of John Muir, Mary Austin, and Gary Snyder, and to bring their ideas into the discussion of ecological values and the current environmental crisis. Lewis combines a perceptive discussion of their work and ideas with an engaging account of his own trail experiences as hiker/backpacker and volunteer trail builder, proposing that such a field-based, interdisciplinary approach to literary study and outdoors experience can enrich our appreciation for the work of nature writers.
Christian Knoeller presents a radical reinterpretation of environmental history set in the heartland of America. In an excellent model of narrative-based scholarship, this book dynamically reimagines American environmentalism across generations of writers, artists, and scientists. Knoeller starts out with Audubon, and cites Thoreau’s journals in the 1850s as he assesses an early 17th century account of New England’s natural resources by William Wood, showing the epic decline in game and bird populations in Concord. This reading of environmental history is replicated throughout with a gallery of novelists, poets, essayists, and other commentators as they explore ecological memory and environmental destruction. In apt discussions of Matthiessen, Lopez, Wendell Berry, William Stafford and many others, Knoeller offers vibrant insights into literary history. He also cites his own memoir of perpetual development on his family’s farm in Indiana, enriching the scholarship and making an urgent plea for the healing aesthetics of the imagination.
Reading across centuries and genres, Knoeller gives us a vibrant new appraisal of Midwestern/North American interior literary traditions and makes clear how vital environmental writing is to this region. To date, no one has written such an eloquent and comprehensive cross-genre analysis of Midwestern environmental literature.
Barbara Kingsolver's books have sold millions of copies. The Poisonwood Bible was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and her work is studied in courses ranging from English-as-a-second-language classes to seminars in doctoral programs. Yet, until now, there has been relatively little scholarly analysis of her writings.
Seeds of Change: Critical Essays on Barbara Kingsolver, edited by Priscilla V. Leder, is the first collection of essays examining the full range of Kingsolver's literary output. The articles in this new volume provide analysis, context, and commentary on all of Kingsolver's novels, her poetry, her two essay collections, and her full-length nonfiction memoir, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
Professor Leder begins Seeds of Change with a brief critical biography that traces Kingsolver's development as a writer. Leder also includes an overview of the scholarship on Kingsolver's oeuvre. Organized by subject matter, the 14 essays in the book are divided into three sections tha deal with recurrent themes in Kingsolver's compositions: identity, social justice, and ecology.
The pieces in this ground-breaking volume draw upon contemporary critical approaches—ecocritical, postcolonial, feminist, and disability studies—to extend established lines of inquiry into Kingsolver's writing and to take them in new directions. By comparing Kingsolver with earlier writers such as Joseph Conrad and Henry David Thoreau, the contributors place her canon in literary context and locate her in cultural contexts by revealing how she re-works traditional narratives such as the Western myth. They also address the more controversial aspects of her writings, examining her political advocacy and her relationship to her reader, in addition to exploring her vision of a more just and harmonious world.
Fully indexed with a comprehensive works-cited section, Seeds of Change gives scholars and students important insight and analysis which will deepen and broaden their understanding and experience of Barbara Kingsolver's work.
Priscilla V. Leder has published articles in Mississippi Quarterly, ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment), Amerikastudien/American Studies, and Southern Studies. She is professor of English at Texas State University—San Marcos.
Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature offers a nuanced and innovative take on McCarthy’s ostensible localism and, along with it, the ecocentric perspective on the world that is assumed by most critics. In opposing the standard interpretations of McCarthy’s novels as critical either of persisting American ideologies—such as manifest destiny and imperialism—or of the ways in which humanity has laid waste to planet Earth, Greve instead emphasizes the author’s interest both in the history of science and in the mythographical developments of religious discourse. Greve aims to counter traditional interpretations of McCarthy’s work and at the same time acknowledge their partial truth, taking into account the work of Friedrich W. J. Schelling and Lorenz Oken, contemporary speculative realism, and Bertrand Westphal’s geocriticism. Further, newly discovered archival material sheds light on McCarthy’s immersion in the metaphysical question par excellence: What is nature?
“Slow violence” from climate change, toxic drift, deforestation, oil spills, and the environmental aftermath of war takes place gradually and often invisibly. Rob Nixon focuses on the inattention we have paid to the lethality of many environmental crises, in contrast with the sensational, spectacle-driven messaging that impels public activism today.
Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.
—Walt Whitman, from “This Compost”
How did Whitman use language to figure out his relationship to the earth, and how can we interpret his language to reconstruct the interplay between the poet and his sociopolitical and environmental world? In this first book-length study of Whitman’s poetry from an ecocritical perspective, Jimmie Killingsworth takes ecocriticism one step further into ecopoetics to reconsider both Whitman’s language in light of an ecological understanding of the world and the world through a close study of Whitman’s language.
Killingsworth contends that Whitman’s poetry embodies the kinds of conflicted experience and language that continually crop up in the discourse of political ecology and that an ecopoetic perspective can explicate Whitman’s feelings about his aging body, his war-torn nation, and the increasing stress on the American environment both inside and outside the urban world. He begins with a close reading of “This Compost”—Whitman’s greatest contribution to the literature of ecology,” from the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass. He then explores personification and nature as object, as resource, and as spirit and examines manifest destiny and the globalizing impulse behind Leaves of Grass, then moves the other way, toward Whitman’s regional, even local appeal—demonstrating that he remained an island poet even as he became America’s first urban poet. After considering Whitman as an urbanizing poet, he shows how, in his final writings, Whitman tried to renew his earlier connection to nature.
Walt Whitman and the Earth reveals Whitman as a powerfully creative experimental poet and a representative figure in American culture whose struggles and impulses previewed our lives today.
In contrast to nature poets of the past who tended more toward the bucolic and pastoral, many contemporary nature poets are taking up radical environmental and ecological themes. In the last few years, interesting and evocative work that examines this poetry has begun to lay the foundation for studies in ecopoetics.
Informed in general by current thinking in environmental theory and specifically by the work of cultural geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, The West Side of Any Mountain participates in and furthers this scholarly attention by offering an overarching theoretical framework with which to approach the field.
One area that contemporary theorists have found problematic is the dualistic civilization/wilderness binary that focuses on the divisions between culture and nature, thereby increasing the modern sense of alienation. Tuan’s place-space framework offers a succinct vocabulary for describing the attitudes of ecological poets and other nature writers in a way that avoids setting up an adversarial relationship between place and space. Scott Bryson describes the Tuanian framework and employs it to offer fresh readings of the work of four major ecopoets: Wendell Berry, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and W. S. Merwin.
The West Side of Any Mountain will be of great interest to scholars and teachers working in the field of contemporary nature poetry. It is recommended for nature-writing courses as well as classes dealing with 20th-century poetry, contemporary literary criticism, and environmental theory.
As interest in environmental issues grows, many writers of fiction have embraced themes that explore the connections between humans and the natural world. Ecologically themed fiction ranges from profound philosophical meditations to action-packed entertainments. Where the Wild Books Are offers an overview of nearly 2,000 works of nature-oriented fiction. The author includes a discussion of the precursors and history of the genre, and of its expansion since the 1970s. He also considers its forms and themes, as well as the subgenres into which it has evolved, such as speculative fiction, ecodefense, animal stories, mysteries, ecofeminist novels, cautionary tales, and others. A brief summary and critical commentary of each title is included. Dwyer’s scope is broad and covers fiction by Native American writers as well as ecofiction from writers around the world. Far more than a mere listing of books, Where the Wild Books Are is a lively introduction to a vast universe of engaging, provocative writing. It can be used to develop book collections or curricula. It also serves as an introduction to one of the most fertile areas of contemporary fiction, presenting books that will offer enjoyable reading and new insights into the vexing environmental questions of our time.
Situated at the intersection of ecocriticism, affect studies, and Romantic studies, this collection breaks new ground on the role of emotions in Western environmentalism. Recent scholarship highlights how traffic between Romantic-era literature and science helped to catalyze Green Romanticism. Closer to our own moment, the affective turn reflects similar cross-disciplinary collaboration, as many scholars now see the physiological phenomenon of affect as a force central to how we develop conscious attitudes and commitments. Together, these trends offer suggestive insights for the study of Green Romanticism.
The environmental imagination does not stop short at the edge of the woods. Nor should our understanding of it, as Lawrence Buell makes powerfully clear in his new book that aims to reshape the field of literature and environmental studies. Emphasizing the influence of the physical environment on individual and collective perception, his book thus provides the theoretical underpinnings for an ecocriticism now reaching full power, and does so in remarkably clear and concrete ways.
Writing for an Endangered World offers a conception of the physical environment--whether built or natural--as simultaneously found and constructed, and treats imaginative representations of it as acts of both discovery and invention. A number of the chapters develop this idea through parallel studies of figures identified with either "natural" or urban settings: John Muir and Jane Addams; Aldo Leopold and William Faulkner; Robinson Jeffers and Theodore Dreiser; Wendell Berry and Gwendolyn Brooks. Focusing on nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, but ranging freely across national borders, his book reimagines city and country as a single complex landscape.
Reviews of this book: Author of the widely influential The Environmental Imagination, Buell is a major figure in contemporary ecocriticism. Here, in broadening the scope of his earlier book, Buell blurs the usual distinction between natural and built environments. Exploring how a variety of texts imagine urban, rural, ocean, and desert places, he convincingly argues that literary imagination is powerfully shaped by--and shapes--a single, complex environment that is both found and constructed...Buell's book is important: it points ecocriticism in profoundly new and welcome directions. --W. Conlogue, Choice