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Introduction: James Joyce and Ecocriticism ROBERT BRAZEAU and DEREK GLADWIN This collection brings together fourteen previously unpublished essays that introduce and examine the overarching ecological consciousness evinced in the writings of James Joyce. Although Joyce is one of the most critically examined writers in the English language, and easily the most in all of Irish literature, there has never been a volume that focuses on the environmental themes found in his writings . These essays approach Joyce’s ecocritical consciousness from a variety of overlapping and mutually informing perspectives and address two broadly conceived but fundamental questions: why should Joyce be considered a writer of interest to ecocritics and how does investigating the ecological dimension of Joyce’s work contribute to both existing Joyce scholarship and ecocritical theory? Ecocriticism clearly represents a new and important direction in literary studies, and scholars who are compelled by this critical outlook will, we hope, find this collection of interest in the context of their work. The essays presented here will help to suggest new and profitable pathways for future work in ecocriticism. In addition, scholars working within Irish studies draw on a wide variety of critical outlooks, including cultural studies, post-colonial studies, transnational studies and, of course, modernist studies; this book will help that community become better acquainted with how ecocriticism elucidates the work of Irish writers, and will encourage further research in this direction. As we show here, even writers like Joyce, who are usually regarded as primarily urban, exhibit a strong ecological dimension in their work, and there are many other Irish writers who have produced work that directly engages issues in ecology and environmental studies.1 Eco-Joyce covers a multitude of disciplines in an attempt to serve as a point of entry into Joyce and ecocriticism of course, but it will also suggest ways in which Irish studies and modernist studies could gain energy from this relatively 1 new and vital approach. Before moving into critical analysis of Joyce’s individual works, however, this introduction briefly outlines the ecocritical field for readers of Joyce who are unfamiliar with this critical outlook; it then discusses recent advances in ecocriticism and Irish studies, as well as contemporary work in Joyce scholarship; and, finally, it offers a brief overview of the essays in this collection and how they engage with issues of space, place and environment in Joyce’s fiction and non-fiction. A Brief Look at Ecocriticism Once regarded as peripheral to cultural studies, ecocriticism is now central within contemporary scholarship. Ecocritical works have come to be featured more prominently on course reading lists, conferences are devoted to the critical outlook and an increasing number of publications appear each year that offer ecocritical readings of literary works or cultural and aesthetic objects. The definition of ecocriticism, nevertheless, can be more difficult to sort out than its history, especially since ecocritical investigations can range from reading texts with an eye towards environmental degradation to more expansive approaches taken up in ecofeminism, postcolonial ecocriticism, animal studies, genetic engineering, geography and travel writing. More recently, biopolitics has emerged as a new, compelling and heavily theorised area that shares much in common with ecocriticism. Due to the recent proliferation of ecocritical themes in scholarly work, we will briefly contextualise ecocritical theory by cataloguing some of the historical and contemporary currents in the field. William Rueckert was the first to introduce the term ‘ecocriticism’ in his 1978 article, ‘Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism’. Rueckert’s goal was to expand the critical discourse of literary studies in order to ‘join literature to ecology’.2 By Rueckert’s coinage, the term ‘eco’ connotes environments that are natural, but the prefix has been reappropriated from the science of ecology and is used synonymously with ‘environmentalism’ or ‘green’.3 Ecocriticism, however, did not fully emerge as a recognised sub-theory of cultural studies until the publication of The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology (1996). This collection brought together historical and contemporary work that sought to stress the importance of an environmental engagement within literary and critical practice. As the 2 ECO-JOYCE co-editor of the volume, Cheryll Glotfelty, points out in the introduction , ‘Ecocriticism takes as its subject the interconnections between nature and culture, specifically the cultural artifacts of language and literature.’4 Subsequently, ecocriticism has come to focus on literary texts that address both general and specific issues dealing with the environment, language and culture. Once a sufficiently elaborate critical lens for engaging with literature...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781782050735
Related ISBN
9781782050728
MARC Record
OCLC
882713144
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-04
Language
English
Open Access
No
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