Ecocriticism or green studies?
‘Simply defined, ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment’ (Cheryll Glotfelty). But should we call it ‘ecocriticism’ or ‘green studies’? Both terms are used to denote a critical approach which began in the USA in the late 1980s, and in the UK in the early 1990s, and it is worth briefly setting out its institutional history to date. In the USA the acknowledged founder is Cheryll Glotfelty, co-editor with Harold Fromm of a key collection of helpful and definitive essays entitled
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.
Ecocriticism extends its boundaries
Peter Barry and William Welstead
Environmental literary criticism, usually contracted to ecocriticism, has
advanced considerably since the term was widely adopted in the 1980s
and 1990s. The aim of this book is threefold: firstly to consider examples of this advance across genres within literary studies and beyond
into other creative forms; secondly to explore the ecocritical implications of collaboration across genres in the humanities; and thirdly to
explore literary, artistic and performance production through direct
greater or lesser force. Such an overview is of course partial, though is amplified and extended in Chapter 2 when more specific art histories of eco-aesthetics, land art and environmental aesthetics take centre stage. Whilst I cannot do justice to all these ‘proto-ecocritical’ histories, this chapter makes manifest the subtle persistence of ecological concepts in art history. (Indeed, I hope it illuminates the principle that anyone with a knowledge of art history’s past could identify their own retrospective ecocritical constructions using entirely different
many starting points, I see this separation of natural history from literature and philosophy in Newcastle, if not complete, to be deeply symbolic. Both ecocriticism and literary animal studies represent what is seen to be a pressing need for ecology, biology and environmental studies to be read with and against literary works, with philosophy as the intermediary between these different disciplines. By so doing they will reinstate the cross-disciplinary discourse that was common before the naturalists went their separate ways.
There were, however
In this part, I draw in a number of earlier moments and contributions in the discipline to what could start to become the constituent parts of a proto-history of ‘Ecocritical Art History’. 1 In three chapters I look at these earlier ecologically tempered art historical contributions in the space that Guattari termed ‘Psyche’. I then widen my focus to re-examine a whole series of themes from art history, including the work done within ecofeminism, Marxist and queer theory, which, in their diverse ways, offer nonhierarchical
An important theme in current studies of environmental representation is the
inadequacy of many narratological and stylistic techniques for registering
ecological complexity. This article argues that, in the case of cinema, water
constitutes an especially vivid example of an allusive natural subject, and it
examines the means by which one film, The Bay (Barry Levinson,
2012), manages to confront that challenge. It pays particular attention to
The Bay’s treatment of animal life, and its
acknowledgement of water’s infrastructural currency. The article draws on
the writings of ecocritical literary theorist Timothy Morton and media historian
and theorist John Durham Peters.
Zoographic Ambivalences in Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee
In the framework of contemporary ecocritical theories, this comparative analysis of works by Paolo Mantegazza, Ouida, and Vernon Lee focuses on the conflictual relationship of proximity and differentiation at stake in the human-animal distinction in a post-Darwinian context dominated by the rise of experimental sciences. A discussion of vivisection and animal taming prompted by anthropocentric works as Fisiologia del dolore and Upilio Faimali in tension with proanimal essays by Ouida and Lee shows how the animal, caught between pure inert materiality and idealization, emerges as an intrinsic lack that the human fills with contending rational, utilitarian, moral, and affective motivations.
Sharks haunt the human imagination more than vampires, werewolves or ghosts. Sensational
representations make the shark the villain of each piece as the top predator of even
humanity. Yet since its Gothic beginnings in Anglophone representation, the shark has been
the victim. The word sharke comes from slavers tongues when the first of its kind was
brought ashore to be flayed, eaten, and its inner bowels excavated and examined. In
reading and writing the shark, humanity opens up the belly of the beast to express the
repressed and to give utterance to that which cannot be uttered– the uncanny. The argument
that follows isnt that we should read the shark as a Gothic figure, but that we already
Sustainability is a notoriously fraught and slippery term, and yet one that is
now well-established in mainstream usage across the contemporary world. While
sustainability is widely discussed and theorised across range of disciplines,
this book sets out to consider what innovations literary scholarship might bring
to the sustainability debate, and indeed what sustainability as a concept might
bring to literary scholarship. Putting forward a range of essays by leading and
upcoming scholars, this book takes a non-prescriptive and critically reflective
stance towards the problem of sustainability – a stance we describe as critical
sustainability. Essays in this collection accordingly undertake a range of
approaches, from applying tools of literary enquiry in order to interrogate
sustainability’s paradoxes, to investigating the ways in which literature
envisages sustainability or plays out its tropes. Overall, this book seeks to
demonstrate how sustainability’s difficulties might open up a productive
opportunity for interrogation and exploration of the kind that literary scholars
and ecocritics are ideally placed to carry out.