Peter Barry
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Ecocriticism
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Ecocriticism as a concept first arose in the late 1970s, at meetings of the Western Literature Association. Ecocriticism takes its literary bearings from three major nineteenth-century American writers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. This chapter indicates the scope of some of the debates within ecocriticism concerning the crucial matter of the relationship between culture and nature. Perhaps the most fundamental point to make is that ecocritics reject the notion that everything is socially and/or linguistically constructed. A related issue, which is also thrown into relief by ecocriticism, is whether a distinction is deconstructed into self-contradiction by the fact that it is not always absolute and clear-cut. A STOP and THINK section provides the reader with some ‘hands-on’ experience with the subject discussed. The chapter describes some activities of ecocritics and presents Thomas Hardy's poem 'In Time of The Breaking of Nations' as an example of ecocriticism.

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Beginning theory (fourth edition)

An introduction to literary and cultural theory

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