Environmental literary criticism, usually contracted to ecocriticism, has advanced considerably since the term was widely adopted in the 1980s and 1990s. This book considers examples of this advance across genres within literary studies and beyond into other creative forms. It explores the ecocritical implications of collaboration across genres in the humanities. The book also explores literary, artistic and performance production through direct collaboration between the creative disciplines and the sciences. It introduces the idea that the human denial of death has in part contributed to our approach to environmental crisis. The book argues that ecocriticism is a developing field, so attention must continue to be directed at reformulating thought in the (also) still unfolding aftermath of high theory. Examples of two poets' shared exploration show one's radical landscape poems side by side with the other's landscape drawings. Ecocritical ideas are integrated with the discussion of how this creative partnership has led to a body of work and the subsequent exhibitions and readings in which it has been taken to the public. One poet claims that to approach any art work ecocritically, it is necessary to bring to it some knowledge of current scientific thought regarding the biosphere. The book then explores poems about stones, on stones and stones which are the poem. The big environmental issues and Homo sapiens's problematic response to them evident in the mundane experience of day-to-day environments are discussed. Finally, the book talks about ecomusicology, past climate patterns, natural heritage interpretation, and photomontage in windfarm development.
In this chapter, the author shows an ecocritical approach in poetry extending outwards into wider areas of cross-arts collaboration. In the event, it seems to have revealed the insights of ecology extending inwards, into the creative process, shared or individual, and into the ways we understand the self. He hopes it has seemed natural to recognise no boundary between creative work done on one's own or in collaboration. The author explains the moral or political imperatives of environmental writing and criticism. He explains how he started to explore the creative process as the terms 'ecocriticism' and 'ecopoetic' made an appearance. He also shows how natural phenomena and processes may offer themselves as a way to see the process of an individual's self, to imagine the self, as an ecology, with disparate elements in shifting but interdependent relationships with each other.
Contemporary environmental crisis fiction and the post-theory era
This chapter focuses on the thematic use of death in a particular strand of environmental crisis fiction. This fiction seems to enter into a dialogue with ecocritics in today's post-theory era. If apocalypse is a feature of some environmental crisis fiction, the thematic use of death also infiltrates the narratives of this fiction where the apocalyptic trope is entirely absent, as well as performing alternative roles within an apocalyptic frame. Novels such as the three books of Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy, Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide, Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods and various others, each exploring a notion of death-facing as an ecological imperative. Taking death-denial as the root cause of environmental crisis, they consider a conscious turning towards death, depicted as the recognition and acceptance of humanity's mortal status.
This chapter considers some art works by British artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, who practise in partnership as Ackroyd & Harvey. Ecocriticism is often associated with celebration of the natural world; Ackroyd & Harvey's work certainly celebrates nature, but also celebrates human capabilities and potential, offering hope and possibilities when confronting apocalyptic scenarios. Relatively diverse as the tenets of ecocriticism appear to be, one key aspect is the imperative, the impetus to action: praxis. Polar Diamond was created by Ackroyd & Harvey as a result of taking part in an expedition to the Arctic with Cape Farewell, an artistled campaigning organization. With their artistic interests grouped around the ideas and realities of transformative biological processes, of change and decay, and with deep interest in ecology and biology, much of Ackroyd & Harvey's work engages with environmental and scientific concerns.
Visitors to the countryside are increasingly faced with a variety of panels, interpretation centres and other interventions that convey selected narratives and ways of seeing our natural heritage. This chapter explores the scope for these cultural objects to be included in ecocritical enquiry. The ubiquity and undemanding nature of many displays makes for an accessible source of information about basic ecology as filtered through the viewpoint of site managers for national and country parks, nature reserves and other protected sites. Interpretation is a broad practice that embodies, creative writing and art, constructing ideas of place, explaining the natural environment and promoting a corporate identity. While projects like that on the Tweed Rivers will be immediately accessible to ecocritics, the humble but ubiquitous interpretation panel and the increasing use of technology may be more problematic.
The role of photomontage in the meaning-making of windfarm development
This chapter explores the role of photomontage in the development of windfarms in Britain, and how the production of such an image contributes to the meaning-making and ontology of a new windfarm. It links the trajectory of the development of windfarm photomontage with insights from ecocriticism, an academic discipline which reads environmental texts with and against literary and artistic works and has developed contemporaneously, gradually widening in scope and praxis. The chapter also explores the policy and regulatory context for the environmental assessment of landscape and the visual assessment of windfarms. Visualisations of windfarms have been central to issues of their social acceptance and community support. Driven by the expansion of windfarm development and the demands for more information, the emerging practice of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has become ever more extensive. A critical component of the EIA is the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA).
This chapter is concerned with contemporary wildlife art in Britain covering the period from the formation of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) in 1964 to the present time. Over that time a considerable body of work has been produced by SWLA artists and exhibited in the Society's annual exhibitions. The chapter considers the relevance of this creative work in ecocritical discourse, both in collaboration with literary and other creative genres and considered in its own right. It explores the way that wildlife artists navigate the twin pulls of science and art in the context of the task of ecocritics to read cultural works with and against discourses from ecology and environmental science. Ecocritics are increasingly interested in the potential for biosemiotics to illuminate ecocritical discourse. The chapter concludes that wildlife art is a rich body of work that would merit further investigation by ecocritics.
For musicology, the genre or idea of the symphony is laden with prestige; for ecocriticism, the pastoral has similar stature and is a genre or mode central to the discipline. In the concise juxtaposition of these two terms, this chapter illustrates ecomusicology, which connects ecocritical and musicological scholarship, and further outlines a brief critical history of selected symphonies in relation to the pastoral. It argues that symphonies can relate ideas about nature. In Hector Berlioz's Fantastic, the simple pastoral takes a pessimistic and grotesque turn towards Leo Marx's 'imaginative and complex' pastoral. In contrast to Berlioz's Fantastic, Johannes Brahms treats the subject of love more kindly in his First Symphony. The chapter focuses on two works regarding the pastoral: Justin Heinrich Knecht's Le Portrait Musical de la Nature and Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, which he titled Sinfonia Pastorella.
The Antarctic Treaty and the attendant extolling of science is at the core of creation myths in Antarctica. In a scheme to travel to Antarctica on a dedicated ship, artists will be able 'to explore creative terrain further afield than the hegemonic issues of imperial conquest and ecology' though one hopes that the Protocol will still hold. All creative activities must perforce conform to the Treaty and Protocol, yet few have had to address them directly within a design brief. Early expeditions constructed what shelter they needed to survive for a limited period, mainly in the form of barely adequate pre-fabricated wooden sheds. One of the most immediate impacts of the strictures of environmental governance in Antarctica itself has been upon the design and construction of the British Antarctic Survey's (BAS) latest base, Halley VI.
This chapter discusses in detail two projects that were a direct result of developing a sense of familiarity with the subject before ever undertaking any image production. The two projects are 1000 Yards; Or So and discarded dog shit bag (DDSB). The chapter discusses thought processes when undertaking the work and the key factors that initiated the projects. It describes how the work fits firmly within the sense of being 'about' something and how issues raised within the work have a resonance to wider issues appertaining to environmental concerns. The chapter undertook three major bodies of work exploring global nuclear history, including visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and to nuclear sites in Cumbria. It talks about the possibility of developing the work as an online mapping project, visualising the distribution and density of DDSBs on both a national and a global basis.