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Ecocritical Explorations in Literary and Cultural Studies: Fences, Boundaries, and Fields (review

Shane Billings

Western American Literature, Volume 45, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 101-102 (Article) Published by The Western Literature Association DOI: 10.1353/wal.0.0101

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Today. His ongoing commitment to the field is also marked by continued criticism of a conservative potential within it—a movement toward stasis and monovocality—that necessitates new directions of inquiry. thereby anchoring themselves to sites without monuments in a world where no black statues graced courthouse lawns. 2009. By Patrick D. a mounted vaquero herding longhorn cattle. a nineteenth-century Tejano family. Murphy. and for disenfranchised groups. Juneteenth celebrations are popular in communities throughout the state and bring attention to cultural arts events as much as they do to the historic past. is being remedied by the plans to construct a life-sized Tejano Monument on the capitol grounds in Austin. This book. That neglect. $60. 230 pages. Reviewed by Shane Billings University of Oregon. rather there are Texas collective memories. draws on a diverse range of contemporary sources to call for a rethinking of approaches to . concluding essay asserts that there is no Texan collective memory. history and memory do not complement each other. Andrés Tijerina relates how Texas Mexicans—Tejanos—whose ancestry precedes Anglos in the state have with few exceptions also been denied recognition through public monuments. MD: Lexington Books. Boundaries. Turner’s essay reminds us how time must inevitably be linked to place. Patrick Murphy has remained one of the most active proponents of ecocriticism as it has emerged over the past two decades. Book Reviews 101 use parks and then private spaces to gather annually. returning the reader to Pierre Nora’s premise from his seven-volume work Les Lieux de mémoire (Paris: Gallimard. to wit. The monument will likely include statues of a Spanish explorer. and Fields.00. Lanham. Eugene Through his scholarly output since the 1980s and his role as founding editor of the journal Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. the cultural and historical homeland of Tejanos. but these are never the same as narrative histories that are crafted by professionals nor should they be considered the same. and other figures all positioned on a platform in the shape of South Texas. This brings Lone Star Pasts full circle. Ecocritical Explorations in Literary and Cultural Studies: Fences. 1984–1993) referenced by many of the contributors. rather they are in basic conflict. however. this can be equally as powerful as a day to recollect. Randolph Campbell’s provocative. like his earlier Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature (2000).

The inclusion of such a wide array of texts and theoretical concerns provides much for the ecocritical scholar to consider and potentially apply to his or her own work. and teaching environmental literature and cultural studies. Though some of the book’s concerns and directions seem dated as current scholarship is already addressing them (this seems especially true of the section on science fiction).” yet this also leads to a weakness. Ecocritical Explorations’ greatest strength is the diversity of its “explorations. Murphy’s theoretical and pedagogical insights. the book is a welcome discussion of how those who study and teach what Murphy calls “nature-oriented literature” might reconsider their theoretical. . the challenge of “multimodal discourses. It is in this way valuable as a call for ecocritics to rethink their teaching and as a starting point for new research. this diversity of texts limits the time Murphy can spend engaging with each. for theory and pedagogy. In addition to his primary audience of ecocritics. hurricanes in the United States. the nation-state and alternatives to it. This foregrounding of individual responsibility and academics as activism informs the entire book and is supported by Murphy’s frequent references to his own experiences as a scholar. The opening section is concerned with theoretical problems in ecocriticism and engages with the romaticization of simplicity in ecocritical approaches to nature writing. especially on the nationstate and transnational theory in relation to localized concerns. The introduction opens with a theoretical discussion of the referentiality of language and literature and how this imposes an ethical responsibility on scholars and educators. will appeal to scholars of American regional fiction and genre studies. followed by chapters on discourses of environmental disaster. and the potential for transnational approaches to ecocritical theory that maintain a localist orientation. and teaching choices. and parent. The second section of the book begins with a chapter on the contemporary novel and is primarily concerned with how ecocriticism would benefit from further engagement with nature-oriented genre fiction such as science fiction and mystery novels. The final section is presented from a cultural studies perspective and begins with a welcome chapter considering fatherhood and environmental crisis. teacher. popular genre fiction. Ecocritical Explorations is divided into three sections of four chapters each.102 Western American Literature Spring 2010 ecocritical theory.” such as Internet communications. which often leaves the reader wishing for a more sustained theoretical explication or textual analysis. However. and Murphy’s own reflections on his past curricula. textual.