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Ecocritical Theory

New European Approaches

Edited by Axel Goodbody and Kate Rigby

Publication Year: 2011

One of the more frequently lodged, serious, and justifiable complaints about ecocritical work is that it is insufficiently theorized. Ecocritical Theory puts such claims decisively to rest by offering readers a comprehensive collection of sophisticated but accessible essays that productively investigate the relationship between European theory and ecocritique. With its international roster of contributors and subjects, it also militates against the parochialism of ecocritics who work within the limited canon of the American West. Bringing together approaches and orientations based on the work of European philosophers and cultural theorists, this volume is designed to open new pathways for ecocritical theory and practice in the twenty-first century.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vii

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Acknowledgements

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p. viii-viii

The initial impetus for this essay collection came from Patrick Murphy, and so it is to him that our first thanks are due. We are also very grateful to Boyd Zenner of the University of Virginia Press for her faith in the volume; our anonymous readers for their encouraging comments and helpful recommendations...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

‘‘From its inception ecocriticism adopted a belligerent attitude towards critical theory.’’∞ This is the opening gambit of John Parham’s article entitled ‘‘The Poverty of Ecocritical Theory’’ in the ecocritical special issue of New Formations, a major British journal of culture, theory, and politics. Edited by...

1 MEMORY & POLITICS

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Passing Glories and RomanticRetrievals: Avant-garde Nostalgiaand Hedonist Renewal

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pp. 17-29

This essay offers a rather more general argument than do many others in this collection. It arose out of a paper delivered to a conference entitled ‘‘Romanticism, Environment, Crisis’’ organized by the Centre for Romantic Studies at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 2006, and its main aim is to...

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Green Things in the Garbage:Ecocritical Gleaning inWalter Benjamin’s Arcades

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pp. 30-42

In his beautiful, terrible image of the angel of history drawn from the Klee painting Angelus Novus, Walter Benjamin offers a glimpse of his view of the relationship between garbage and history...

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Raymond Williams:Materialism and Ecocriticism

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pp. 43-54

Raymond Williams was born in 1921 and died in 1988. Many would regard him as the single-most important critic of literature and culture at work in postwar Britain. He was a major figure on the British intellectual left: ‘‘by far the most commanding figure,’’ in Terry Eagleton’s assessment.1 Working...

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Sense of Place and Lieu de Mémoire:A Cultural Memory Approach toEnvironmental Texts

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pp. 55-67

It is striking how often literary representations of nature appear within recollections of childhood, or more broadly in the context of acts of remembering. At the same time, memories of the past, in literature as in life, are commonly anchored in places, landscapes, or buildings. As approaches to...

2 CULTURE, SOCIETY,& ANTHROPOLOGY

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From Literary Anthropology toCultural Ecology: German EcocriticalTheory since Wolfgang

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pp. 71-83

While ecocriticism first emerged in the Anglophone world, the last decade or so has witnessed its rapid spread throughout other countries and academic communities. In many of these communities, new ecocritical theory has drawn on locally predominant traditions of thought, thus diversifying...

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The Social Theory of Norbert Elias and the Question of the Nonhuman World

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pp. 84-97

The ecological damage that has led to an emerging sixth world extinction event may not be derived entirely from Western modernity. It could, however, be argued that in spite of more general causal factors such as the exponential growth in human populations, the androgenic causes of this...

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From the Modern tothe Ecological: Latouron Walden Pond

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pp. 98-110

So long as ecocritics are trapped in the ‘‘two cultures’’ ideology that polarizes literature from science and human society from nonhuman nature, we will find it difficult to define a middle ground from which literature and science can be seen as partners, and humans and nonhumans as agents, all cooperating...

3 PHENOMENOLOGY

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Martin Heidegger, D. H. Lawrence,and Poetic Attention to Being

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pp. 113-125

The thought of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is a challenge to thinking because it asks us to imagine being differently. His works are not straightforward and do not set out an explicit program for social change but rather invite a shift in attention and conception of self in...

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Merleau-Ponty’s Ecophenomenology

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pp. 126-138

Maurice Merleau-Ponty is the only major European philosopher who embraces the consequences of evolution and sees humans as interdependent members of the ecosystem. His thinking manifests a lifelong engagement with modern science, which he saw in a necessary complementarity with...

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Gernot Böhme’s EcologicalAesthetics of Atmosphere

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pp. 139-152

In The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Terry Eagleton acclaims A. G. Baumgarten’s ‘‘discourse of the body’’ as ‘‘the first stirrings of a primitive materialism—of the body’s long inarticulate rebellion against the tyranny of the theoretical.’’1 While Baumgarten is widely acknowledged as a founding figure in modern...

4 ETHICS & OTHERNESS

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Dialoguing with Bakhtinover Our Ethical Responsibilityto Anothers

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pp. 155-167

The Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin (1895–1975) provides a valuable set of tools for ecocritical analysis and a method of approaching literary works and their interrelationship with the material world. Bakhtin’s attitude toward language positions him in opposition to Ferdinand de Saussure and Saussurean linguistics...

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Coexistence and Coexistents:Ecology without a World

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pp. 168-180

Environmental ethics sometimes depends upon ideas of life forms immersed in a surrounding ‘‘world.’’∞ For Trevor Norris, ‘‘world’’ is the ‘‘dynamic relatedness that grounds our identity’’ (see his essay in this volume). The philosopher Martin Heidegger derives the notion of ‘‘world’’ from his study of...

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The Matter of Texts: A MaterialIntertextuality and EcocriticalEngagements with the Bible

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pp. 181-193

Preserved in the British Library, the fourth-century ce Codex Sinaiticus and the fifth-century CE Codex Alexandrinus recall both a colonial history of appropriation and custodianship of ancient artifacts, and a long tradition of production and reproduction of Bibles. Along with Codex Vaticanus and...

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There Can Be No Democracywithout a Culture of Difference

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pp. 194-205

Ours is an age of sociology, of statistics, of mass media, and of politics. To be sure, other components can be included, such as technique, which is perhaps the one that underlies and unites the others. And also the one that today imperils the democratic model, at least as far as citizens, both men and...

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The Ecological Irigaray?

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pp. 206-214

It could appear that the work of Luce Irigaray bears little relevance to environmental thought.1 Irigaray is a feminist philosopher of sexual di√erence, after all, and the injustices that concern her are explicitly social and political. Most prominently, her work has sought to undermine the dominance...

5 MODELS FROMPHYSICS & BIOLOGY

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Cybernetics and Social Systems Theory

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pp. 217-229

Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac opens with a walk in the hills of southwestern Wisconsin, in January, during a brief spell of thaw. The narrator follows the track of a skunk: ‘‘[It] leads straight across-country. . . . I follow, curious to deduce his state of mind and appetite. . . . In January one...

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Ecocentric Postmodern Theory:Interrelations between Ecological,Quantum, and Postmodern Theories

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pp. 230-242

The ecological turn has not only brought an integral awareness of the natural world into the field of literary studies, reorienting the humanities toward a more biocentric worldview, but has also drawn attention to the role of literature in influencing our knowledge of the world. According to Norman...

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Affinity Studies and Open Systems:A Nonequilibrium, EcocriticalReading of Goethe’s Faust

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pp. 243-255

Ecocriticism’s contributions to the current rejection of dualistic thinking are noteworthy, particularly when this interdisciplinary field concentrates on hybridity and ‘‘relations’’ that preexist essences. In this mode, ecocriticism participates in a broader development of ‘‘affinity studies’’ that encompass...

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Blake, Deleuze, and theEmergence of EcologicalConsciousness

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pp. 256-269

Gilles Deleuze (often in collaboration with Félix Guattari) sought to move analytic philosophy and theoretical psychoanalysis beyond ‘‘abstraction’’ and toward a ‘‘transcendental empiricism’’ already present in earlier philosophic work. This remarkable combination of traditionalism and innovation describes...

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The Biosemiotic Turn: Abduction,or, the Nature of Creative Reasonin Nature and Culture

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pp. 270-282

In this essay I explore an ecocritical theory of cultural, and thus also literary, creativity from a biosemiotic point of view. While what follows might be thought broadly to fall within what is sometimes called the ‘‘post’’ humanities, in fact biosemiotics is a thoroughly interdisciplinary proto-discipline; it...

Bibliography

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pp. 283-312

Contributors

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pp. 313-316

Index

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pp. 317-322


E-ISBN-13: 9780813931630
E-ISBN-10: 0813931630
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813931357
Print-ISBN-10: 0813931355

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Under the Sign of Nature

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Subject Headings

  • Ecocriticism -- Europe.
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