The ecological eye aims to align the discipline of art history with
ecology, climate change, the Anthropocene and the range of politics and
theoretical positions that will help to ground such an approach. It looks both
backwards and forwards in order to promote the capacities of close attention,
vital materialism, nonhierarchy, care and political ecology. The book seeks to
place the history of art alongside its ecocritical colleagues in other
humanities disciplines. Three main directions are discussed: the diverse
histories of art history itself, for evidence of exemplary work already
available; the politics of social ecology, Marxist ecologies and anarchy,
showing its largely untapped relevance for work in art history and visual
culture; and finally, emerging work in posthumanism and new materialism, that
challenges unhelpful hierarchies across the human, animal, botanical and
geological spheres. The ecological eye concludes with an appeal to the
discipline to respond positively to the environmental justice movement.
This chapter draws on the work of many canonical art historians and weighs
their contribution, implied or explicit, to an ecocritical art history. It
looks at the standard introductions to art historical theory and method that
are in circulation, mining them for ecological potential and seeking out a
positive case for environmental concerns of various types nascent within the
discipline. Yet is also problematises the fact that none of these
introductions explicitly asserts ecological imperatives. The conclusion of
this chapter is that art history is well placed to expand into a critical
environmental humanities whilst drawing selectively on existing work in the
Unfolding Irish landscapes offers a comprehensive and sustained study of the work of cartographer, landscape writer and visual artist Tim Robinson. The visual texts and multi-genre essays included in this book, from leading international scholars in Irish Studies, geography, ecology, environmental humanities, literature and visual culture, explore Robinson’s writing, map-making and art. Robinson’s work continues to garner significant attention not only in Ireland, but also in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America, particularly with the recent celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his monumental Stones of Aran: pilgrimage. Robert Macfarlane has described Robinson’s work in Ireland as ‘one of the most sustained, intensive and imaginative studies of a landscape that has ever been carried out’. It is difficult to separate Robinson the figure from his work and the places he surveys in Ireland – they are intertextual and interconnected. This volume explores some of these characteristics for both general and expert readers alike. As individual studies, the essays in this collection demonstrate disciplinary expertise. As parts of a cohesive project, they form a collective overview of the imaginative sensibility and artistic dexterity of Robinson’s cultural and geographical achievements in Ireland. By navigating Robinson’s method of ambulation through his prose and visual creations, this book examines topics ranging from the politics of cartography and map-making as visual art forms to the cultural and environmental dimensions of writing about landscapes.
This collection draws together scholarship from across fields of ecocriticism, ecoGothic, garden history, Romantic and Victorian studies and environmental humanities to explore how the garden in nineteenth-century Europe could be a place of disturbance, malevolence and haunting. Ranging from early nineteenth-century German fairy romance to early twentieth-century turbulence in children’s stories, gardens feature as containers and catalysts for emotional, spiritual and physical encounters between vegetal and human lives. The garden is considered a restorative place, yet plants are not passive: they behave in accordance with their own needs; they can ignore or engage with humankind in their own interests. In these chapters, human and vegetal agency is interpreted through ecoGothic investigation of uncanny manifestations in gardens – hauntings, psychic encounters, monstrous hybrids, fairies and ghosts – with plants, greenhouses, granges, mansions, lakes, lawns, flowerbeds and trees as agents and sites of uncanny developments, leading to disaster and death, radical life-changes, wisdom and sorrow. These Gothic garden stories illustrate our anxieties related to destruction at any level, and the chapters here provide unique insights from across the long nineteenth century into how plant life interacts uncannily with human distress and well-being.
The first chapter introduces the key texts associated with the animal turn in the environmental humanities with particular emphasis on Peter Singer (1975), John Berger (1980) and Donna Haraway (2008). The 10,000-year history of domestication is explored through Juliet Clutton-Brock (1995, 2012) and Terry O’Connor (2013). The animal turn in the humanities depends in part on insights gained from the development of ethology from Darwin through the work of the 1973 Nobel laureates Tinbergen and Lorenz, the sociobiology of Wilson and its more recent transition to evolutionary psychology (Griffiths 2011: 393–414). Ted Hughes’s essays on writing about animals are used to test the idea that the animal turn can enrich our critical understanding of poems about animals.
This chapter borrows the term ‘personal curvature’, used by the historical geographer J.H. Andrews to describe ‘the subjective element in a cartographer’s linework’, in order to suggest that analogous distortions can be seen in writings by Spenser and other Englishmen to cross the Irish Sea. Focusing on the fifth and sixth books of The Faerie Queene and moments from a variety of contemporary prose texts, this chapter considers the textures of the Irish environment, its wandering coastlines and unstable wetlands, in order to display how the westward gaze of Spenser and his fellow literary strategists struggled to find a rhetoric of discovery that could also acknowledge the frustrations of partial and provisional knowledge. The chapter engages with the work of cultural and historical geographers as well as the important work done by Spenserians concerning the role that Ireland plays in Spenser’s literary work. Through its readings of moments in which terraqueous spaces are placed under particular pressure, the chapter offers an approach that blends postcolonial readings of Spenser’s work with recent directions in ecocriticism and the work of the environmental humanities.
environmentalhumanities by drawing selectively on existing work in the discipline. Building on canonical, largely male, approaches in Chapter 1 , the main aim of ecofeminism within this book is to show its power in theory, political philosophy and activism. I seek to align a prominent strand of political and cultural ecology – namely ecofeminism – with the huge contribution of feminism within art history and criticism. Surprisingly, there is very little if any material on this particular disciplinary boundary, even though the varied work of Lippard, Lacy, Krauss, Pollock
, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
David Thoreau and John Muir, and in European literary studies of
Romanticism, including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Scholars have since extended ecocriticism to other literary genres
and across the humanities, so that ASLE in its 2015 Strategic Plan:
Seeks to inspire and promote intellectual work in the environmentalhumanities and arts. Our vision is an inclusive community whose members
are committed to environmental research, education, literature, art and
service, environmental justice and ecological
forms of subjectivity, 20 which seem central to any new discussion of environmentalhumanities futures, including those of art history. There is a useful double meaning, of course, in the term ‘subject’ in the visual art context, as referring both to the human agent in the middle of an aesthetic condition (which could be the artist, viewer or some other participant in art’s production and circulation) and also to the ‘subject’ of an artwork – as loosely deriving from its ostensible content.
Brunner et al. sum up elegantly how Guattari’s ‘metamodel’ in The
other is external, in that global ecologies shape all human activity now more than ever, including the humanities within which lies art history. The consequence of both these pressures is that there is no scale, no theme, no method, no ethics, no organism, no mineral with which the history of art cannot be in symbiotic relationship. This is not a problem of language and, despite the challenges, it is not that complicated.
The rise of the environmentalhumanities
‘All critical examinations of the relation to nature are simultaneously critical