The Greening of Literary Scholarship
Literature, Theory, and the Environment
Publication Year: 2002
A collection of thirteen original essays by leaders in the emerging field of ecocriticism, The Greening of Literary Scholarship is devoted to exploring new and previously neglected literatures, theories, and methods in environmental-literary scholarship.
Each essay in this impressive collection challenges the notion that the study of environmental literature is separate from traditional concerns of criticism, and each applies ecocritical scholarship to literature not commonly explored in this context. New historicism, postcolonialism, deconstructionism, and feminist and Marxist theories are all utilized to evaluate and gain new insights into environmental literature; at the same time, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Upton Sinclair, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Susan Howe are studied from an ecocritical perspective.
At its core, The Greening of Literary Scholarship offers a practical demonstration of how articulating traditional and environmental modes of literary scholarship can enrich the interpretation of literary texts and, most important, revitalize the larger fields of environmental and literary scholarship.
Published by: University of Iowa Press
“Please come home, Scott. There’s been an accident. Sally didn’t make it, she’s gone.” The other day, while I was at my office meeting with a student and discussing his upcoming project, our dogs escaped from the yard at home, and two were hit by a truck, one of them killed instantly. My fiancée, Susie, left the frantic and despairing message on my answering machine, while I chatted about environmental writing in the other room. Of course, there’s nothing I could have done about the accident, even if I...
Environmental literary criticism is at something of a crossroads: once the province of a tiny coterie of literary professionals, it is on the verge of becoming an important subfield of literary scholarship at American universities. Supported by a large national organization (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment [ASLE]) and a number of publishing outlets, ecocriticism may not yet be in the mainstream, but it has become one of the more publicly visible...
1. Saving All the Pieces
When ecologists and conservation biologists theorize the study, alteration, or restoration of natural ecosystems, they often begin with the maxim that it is imperative to “save all the pieces”—that however else humans might alter the patterns of nature, we should be certain that our intervention does not result in the extinction of a plant or animal that may ultimately prove vital to the healthy functioning of the ecosystem. This essay...
2. Le Page du Pratz’s Fabulous Journey of Discovery
Living in the Pacific Northwest and working as a scholar and teacher of colonial American literature, I have sometimes struggled to find the connections that so many academics cultivate between my studies and my extracurricular interests. In recent years, a focus on literature and the environment, or ecocriticism, has flourished among my students and colleagues at the University of Oregon, many of whom are active in environmental causes and share...
3. Ecocriticism, New Historicism, and Romantic Apostrophe
...As Culler notes in The Pursuit of Signs, one could read a great deal of secondary material on any highly apostrophic poem and not encounter a single mention of apostrophe itself (136). Scholarship on romantic poetry offers innumerable examples of this phenomenon, from M. H. Abrams’s classic essay “Structure and Style in the Greater Romantic Lyric” to current new historicist and ecocritical work. But why has the form of apostrophe itself been so often ignored? ...
4. In Search of Left Ecology’s Usable Past
As the immigrant Jurgis Rudkus and his family peer out of their train windows on their journey to Chicago in the second chapter of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the landscape undergoes a remarkable transformation. An hour before they reach the city, the Rudkuses get their first inkling of the possible nature of that change, becoming dimly aware of “perplexing changes in the atmosphere.” The air around them is increasingly polluted by an “elemental odor, raw and crude . . . rich, almost...
5. Rivers, Journeys, and the Construction of Place in Nineteenth-Century English Literature
Why do so many of the best Disney World attractions feature boats? There could be many reasons. On a hot summer day, when you have been standing in line for a long time, the splash of a flume ride can be very refreshing. A boat is a welcome variation on simple rollercoaster cars. But there are a number of rides in which the physical aspects of the ride itself—its speed, for example—are not, as with “Space Mountain,” say, part of the thrill. These rides are instead...
6. Locating the Uranium Mine
This remarkable turning point in Leslie Marmon Silko’s 1977 novel Ceremony is my focus in this essay. Although it has been clear for more than half the novel that Tayo, the protagonist, has been participating in a specifically Laguna Pueblo healing ceremony, only in this recognition scene near the end of the book is the ceremony coming near to completion—now that he is standing amid the radioactive tailings of an abandoned uranium mine on the edge of the...
7. Landscape in Drag
Since the 1970s, the feminization of space has piqued the interest of geographers, feminists, and ecocritics alike. The essentializing link between women and the environment has become either a union to esteem—as some early ecofeminists affirmed—or to vilify. Recently, the ecocritical treatment of gender and the environment has been dominated by thinkers who rigorously condemn any determinist bind between women and the natural world. These writers have sought...
8. “Space Is a Frame We Map Ourselves In”
The beginning of Susan Howe’s essay “Frame Structures” contains an 1812 sketch entitled “The Second Oldest View of Buffalo.” Ships are anchored in the harbor, and buildings and sections of shoreline are marked with tiny white numbers, some nearly illegible as they fade into the landscape. The caption states that the sketch accompanied a report to the secretary of the navy on the capture of the Detroit and Caledonia, yet the key is missing, and the significance...
9. Of Whales and Men
Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian opens with a challenge directed toward a nameless, orphaned child: “Only now is the child finally divested of all he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world’s turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay” (4–5). Although we may sense something of the...
10. Articulating the Cyborg
In this essay, I take on one of the most vexing issues in the overlap between literary and environmental studies—the question of stakes. Although some might argue that literary scholarship is a field with little at stake, the turn in criticism to environmental advocacy raises the stakes considerably—to nothing less than, as we often repeat, the ultimate survival of life on Earth. My essay, which begins as a capsule history of modern philosophy and environmental thought...
11. Surveying the Sublime
One of the curiosities of the literature of American surveying and mapping is its reliance on the sublime. Since the sublime is concerned with an aesthetic and emotional response and surveying with a scientific one, the two would seem to be in conflict. The sublime deals with measureless emotion, while surveying precisely measures. The sublime implies something beneath the threshold of experience, what can’t be mapped or limned. Yet when surveyors Henry David Thoreau and the...
12. “Mont Blanc”
These, the famous final lines of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Mont Blanc” present a challenge for green approaches to Shelley’s work. The “thou” here is Mont Blanc itself, the highest peak in Europe, which the poet views from a bridge over the Arve River in the Chamonix valley of southeastern France. The mountain is referred to generally throughout the poem as alien “Power” and has just been described (in lines 127–141) as completely remote from human contact. The direct address of this last...
13. Vicarious Edification
To commune with nature. To be alone with nature. This is perhaps the last great myth of unmediated experience. For when we say “alone with nature,” this aloneness implies not merely a separation from whatever stands in contrast to nature, from everything that is marked by humanity, but also from the contingencies of the self, from that labyrinth of history, customs, transient or local motives, from, in short, the whole psychological morass that is the self as it is lived in the...
Page Count: 306
Publication Year: 2002
OCLC Number: 56109553
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