From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ecocriticism is the study of literature and environment from
an interdisciplinary point of view where all sciences come together to
analyze the environment and brainstorm possible solutions for the
correction of the contemporary environmental situation. Ecocriticism was
officially heralded by the publication of two seminal works, both published
in the mid-1990s: The Ecocriticism Reader, edited by Cheryll Glotfelty and
Harold Fromm, and The Environmental Imagination, by Lawrence Buell.
In the United States, ecocriticism is often associated with
the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE),

which hosts biennial meetings for scholars who deal with environmental

matters in literature. ASLE publishes a journal—Interdisciplinary Studies in
Literature and Environment (ISLE)—in which current American scholarship
can be found.
Ecocriticism is an intentionally broad approach that is known by a
number of other designations, including "green (cultural)
studies", "ecopoetics", and "environmental literary criticism".
Evolution of ecocriticism in literary studies
Ecocritics investigate such things as the
underlying ecological values, what, precisely, is meant by the word
nature, and whether the examination of "place" should be a distinctive
category, much like class, gender or race. Ecocritics examine human
perception of wilderness, and how it has changed throughout history and
whether or not current environmental issues are accurately represented or

even mentioned in popular culture and modern literature. Other
disciplines, such as history, philosophy, ethics, and psychology, are also
considered by ecocritics to be possible contributors to ecocriticism.
William Rueckert may have been the first person to use the term
ecocriticism (Barry 240). In 1978, Rueckert published an essay
titled Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism. His intent
was to focus on “the application of ecology and ecological concepts to the
study of literature."[2]
Ecologically minded individuals and scholars have been publishing
progressive works of ecotheory and criticism since the explosion of
environmentalism in the late 1960s and 1970s. However, because there
was no organized movement to study the ecological/environmental side of
literature, these important works were scattered and categorized under a
litany of different subject headings: pastoralism, human ecology,
regionalism, American Studies etc. British marxist critic Raymond
Williams, for example, wrote a seminal critique of pastoral literature in
1973, The Country and the City.
Another early ecocritical text, Joseph Meeker's The Comedy of
Survival (1974), proposed a version of an argument that was later to
dominate ecocriticism and environmental philosophy; that environmental
crisis is caused primarily by a cultural tradition in the West of separation
of culture from nature, and elevation of the former to moral
predominance. Such anthropocentrism is identified in the tragic
conception of a hero whose moral struggles are more important than mere
biological survival, whereas the science of animal ethology, Meeker

asserts, shows that a "comic mode" of muddling through and "making
love not war" has superior ecological value. In the later, "second wave"
ecocriticism, Meeker's adoption of an ecophilosophical position with
apparent scientific sanction as a measure of literary value tended to
prevail over Williams's ideological and historical critique of the shifts in a
literary genre's representation of nature.
As Glotfelty noted in The Ecocriticism Reader, “One indication of the
disunity of the early efforts is that these critics rarely cited one another’s
work; they didn’t know that it existed…Each was a single voice howling in
the wilderness.”[3] Nevertheless, ecocriticism—unlike feminist and Marxist
criticisms—failed to crystallize into a coherent movement in the late
1970s, and indeed only did so in the USA in the 1990s.
In the mid-1980s, scholars began to work collectively to establish
ecocritism as a genre, primarily through the work of the Western
Literature Association in which the revaluation of nature writing as a nonfictional literary genre could function. In 1990, at the University of
Nevada, Reno, Glotfelty became the first person to hold an academic
position as a professor of Literature and the Environment, and UNR has
retained the position it established at that time as the intellectual home of
ecocriticism even as ASLE has burgeoned into an organization with
thousands of members in the US alone. From the late 1990s, new
branches of ASLE and affiliated organizations were started in the UK,
Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand (ASLEC-ANZ), India (OSLE-India),
Taiwan, Canada and Europe.

animal stories. At the same time.[7] More recently. rather. social. firstly by the ethical stand it takes. debates notwithstanding. artistic. and. there has been relatively little dispute about the moral and philosophical aims of ecocriticism. television. although its scope has broadened rapidly from nature writing. Glotfelty's working definition in The Ecocriticism Reader is that "ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment". theoretical. social and scientific study. architectures. historical. or otherwise–of . ideological.In comparison with other 'political' forms of criticism. Estok argues that ecocriticism is more than “simply the study of Nature or natural things in literature. ecocriticism has borrowed methodologies and theoretically informed approaches liberally from other fields of literary.. Romantic poetry. secondly. it is any theory that is committed to effecting change by analyzing the function– thematic.[6] Simon Estok noted in 2001 that “ecocriticism has distinguished itself. as [a] study of the relationship between literature and the environment conducted in a spirit of commitment to environmentalist praxis”. theatre. its commitment to the natural world as an important thing rather than simply as an object of thematic study.[4] and one of the implicit goals of the approach is to recoup professional dignity for what Glotfelty calls the "undervalued genre of nature writing". in an article that extends ecocriticism to Shakespearean studies. scientific narratives and an extraordinary range of literary texts. by its commitment to making connections”.[5] Lawrence Buell defines “‘ecocriticism’ .. and canonical literature to take in film.

[12] . there has been a call to recognize the place of the Environmental Justice movement in redefining ecocritical discourse. All ecocritics share an environmentalist motivation of some sort. be prepared to explain what you do and be criticized. sexual and racial norms (so homosexuality has been seen as 'unnatural'. Cohen adds his voice to such critique. which analyzes the analogies between ecosystems and imaginative texts and posits that such texts potentially have an ecological (regenerative. it can also involve a critique of the ways cultural norms of nature and the environment contribute to environmental degradation.” Certainly. [8] This echoes the functional approach of the cultural ecology branch of ecocriticism. represented in documents (literary or other) that contribute to material practices in material worlds”. “if you want to be an ecocritic. Greg Garrard has dubbed 'pastoral ecology' the notion that nature undisturbed is balanced and harmonious.the natural environment. but it also involves scepticism about the uses to which 'ecological' language is put in ecocriticism.[10] some are 'nature sceptical'. Cohen has observed. In part this entails a shared sense of the ways in which 'nature' has been used to legitimise gender. if not satirized. or aspects of it. revitalizing) function in the cultural system.[9] As Michael P. but whereas the majority are 'nature endorsing'. noting that one of the problems of ecocriticism has been what he calls its “praise-song school” of criticism.[11] while Dana Phillips has criticised the literary quality and scientific accuracy of nature writing in "The Truth of Ecology". for example). Similarly.

107 3. pp. Jump up^ Glotfelty & Fromm 1996. while also motivating audiences to live within a limit that will be binding over generations" (16). vii 4. Jump up^ Glotfelty & Fromm 1996. p. He tests it for a film (mal)adaptation about Amazonian deforestation. p. Jump up^ Glotfelty & Fromm 1996. xviii 2. 220 8. Jump up^ 430. p. Jump up^ Glotfelty & Fromm 1996. Jump up^ Kate Soper. Implementing the Gomides definition. p. xviii 5. 16-17 9. n. Jump up^ Estok 2005. Jump up^ Glotfelty & Fromm 1996. p. Camilo Gomides has offered an operational definition that is both broad and discriminating: "The field of enquiry that analyzes and promotes works of art which raise moral questions about human interactions with nature. Jump up^ Buell 1998 Sources . Joseph Henry Vogel makes the case that ecocriticism constitutes an "economic school of thought" as it engages audiences to debate issues of resource allocation that have no technical solution. 56-58 12. Jump up^ Zapf 2008 10. "What is Nature?".20 7. p. 1998 11. xxxi 6. Jump up^ Estok 2001. References 1.In response to the question of what ecocriticism is or should be. Jump up^ Barry 2009. pp.

Lawrence." Critical Inquiry 24. & Robert Zeller. Manchester: Manchester UP. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Forns-Broggi. Contemporary Contemplations on Ecoliterature. eds.” AUMLA 96 (November): 200-38. “La aventura perdida del ecopoema” in Fórnix 5/6 (2007): 376-394. Buell. MA and London. 2007. 1995. MA and London. Lawrence. Lawrence. .Barry. 1 (January 2004): 9-36. Cambridge. CA.S. 2009. Coupe. 3rd ed. (2001). Buell. Lawrence. Suresh. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau. 2001. “A Report Card on Ecocriticism. England: Harvard University Press. Cohen.3 (1998): 639665 . Culture. (2005). ed. Simon C. "Ecocriticism". Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. "Toxic Discourse. London: Routledge. “Shakespeare and Ecocriticism: An Analysis of ‘Home’ and ‘Power’ in King Lear.” AUMLA 103 (May 2005): 15-41. New York: Routledge. Cranston. and Beyond. Nature Writing. Estok. The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism. Simon C. Peter. Buell.” Environmental History 9.(Spanish) Frederick. Estok. Cambridge. 2012. "The Littoral Zone: Australian Contexts and their Writers". Roberto. and Environment in the U. New York: Rodopi. 2000. Writing for an Endangered World: Literature. and the Formation of American Culture. 2004. Greg. Michael P. Ecocriticism. “Blues in Green: Ecocriticism Under Critique. New Delhi:Authorpress. Garrard.

Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory: The Development of the Aesthetics of the Infinite. James C. “Greening English: Recent Introductions to Ecocriticism. Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology. 2003. Ecological Literary Criticism: Romantic Imagining and the Biology of Mind. of Washington Press. Meeker. Dana. Marjorie Hope. Martin's. Oxford: Oxford University Press. "The Comedy of Survival: Studies in Literary Ecology. Ursula K. Leo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 1964." New York: Scribner's.1 (2006): 13-23. New York: Columbia UP.2 (2006): 289–298. 1959. 1972. Gomides. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Truth of Ecology: Nature. Marx. Phillips. Indian Journal of Ecocriticism Kroeber. ISLE 13. Nicolson. Seattle: Univ. Heise. . Athens and London: University of Georgia. Cheryll and Harold Fromm (Eds).” Contemporary Literature 47. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. 1994. 1996. Joseph W. Culture. New York: St. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. McKusick. and Literature in America. 'Putting a New Definition of Ecocriticism to the Test: The Case of The Burning Season. Karl. 2000. 2008. Camilo.Glotfelty. Moore. a film (mal)Adaptation". Bryan L. Ecology and Literature: Ecocentric Personification from Antiquity to the Twenty-first Century.

Hubert. Alex. Slovic. Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing: Henry Thoreau. London: Chatto and Windus. Nirmaldasan & Rayson K. Raymond. Salt Lake City.wikipedia. 2008. 2004. "Ecocriticism as an Economic School of Thought: Woody Allen's Match Point as Exemplary. William." OMETECA: Science and Humanities 12 (2008): 105-119.1 (1978): 71-86. 1992. Barry Lopez. Annie Dillard.4 (2008): 847-868.Rueckert. San José. "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism." New Literary History 39. Edward Abbey. La ecocrítica hoy. UT: University of Utah Press. . Essays in Ecocriticism. Williams." Iowa Review 9. Wendell Berry. Zapf. Nirmal. Costa Rica: Aire Moderno. Rojas Pérez. The Country and the City. 1973. Joseph Henry. Vogel. Selvamony. http://en. Walter. "Literary Ecology and the Ethics of Texts. Delhi: Sarup and Sons and OSLE-India.

Ecological humanities From and the place of humans in it (Rose 2004) The ecological humanities are characterised by a connectivity ontology and a commitment to two fundamental axioms relating to the need to submit to ecological laws and to see humanity as part of a larger . The ecological humanities aim to help bridge traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities. drawing on the many environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged in the humanities over the past several decades (in particular environmental philosophy. Eastern and Indigenous ways of knowing the natural . This world view in turn shares an intimate connection with Lotka's physiological philosophy and the associated concept of the "World Engine".living system Connectivity ontology One of the fundamental ontological presuppositions of ecological humanities is that the organic world and its inorganic parts are seen as a single system whereby each part is linked to each other part. environmental history and environmental anthropology). environmental humanities) are an interdisciplinary area of research.[1] When we see everything as connected. the free encyclopedia The ecological humanities (also. and between Western. then the traditional questions of the .

into a consideration of how justice is connected with our transformation of our environment and ecosystems.[2] The situation is complicated however by the recognition of the fact that connections are both non-linear and linear. It also has connections with Leibniz's Enlightenment project where. the sciences are simultaneously abridged while also being enlarged. It has links with the political philosophy of Hannah Arendt and the works of Italo Calvino. This broadened conception of justice involves "enlarged" or "ecological thinking". Thus there is a motivation to find linguistic modes which can adequately express both linear and non. The consequence of such a connectivity ontology is. . This kind of knowledge sharing is called transdisciplinarity. require both linear and non-linear modes of language through which reasoning about justice can be done.humanities concerning economic and political justice become enlarged. which presupposes the enhancement of knowledge sharing within fields of plural and diverse ‘knowledges’. The axiom of submission to ecosystem laws. that we begin to seek out a more inclusive concept of justice that includes non-humans within the domain of those to whom rights are owing.linear connectivities Axioms of ecological humanities[edit] : There are three axioms of ecological humanities 1. The ecological humanities therefore. "enlarge[s] the sphere of what we can imagine". As Calvino put it. as proponents of the ecological humanities argue.

2. 1968: 3). the connections between and among living things are the basis for how ecosystems are understood to work.humanities is just 'ecology') Contemporary ideas[edit] Political economic ecology See also: Political ecology . ecological . Eckersley 1998) The third axiom comes from the strong 'self-reflective' tradition of all 'humanities' scholarship and it encourages ecological humanities to investigate its own theoretical basis (and without which. and 3. which states that ecosystems and nature may be merely convenient conceptual entities (Marshall. democracy and ecologism (Eckersley . which situates humanity as participant in a larger living system.1996: 222. Putting the first and second axioms another way. and thus constitute laws of existence and guidelines for behaviour (Rose 2004) The first of these axioms has a tradition in social sciences (see Marx. 225. The axiom of the social construction of ecosystems and ecological unity. From the second axiom the notions of “ecological embodiment/ embededness” and “habitat” have emerged from Political Theory with a fundamental connectivity to rights. 2002). The axiom of ecological kinship.

Odum (1994) predicated the Energy Systems Language on the principles of ecological energetics. the causal bond between connections is considered an ontic category (see Patten et al. Systems Ecologist H. 1991: 80).Some theorists have suggested that the inclusion of non-humans in the consideration of justice links ecocentric philosophy with political economics.Ecology Energy systems language The question of what language can best depict the linear and nonlinear causal connections of ecological systems appears to have been taken up by the school of ecology known as systems ecology.into the field of Political Economic Ecology noted above Notes . In ecological energetics.T. If in accordance with the axioms of ecological humanities. 1976: 460). To depict the linear and non-linear internal relatedness of ecosystems where the laws of thermodynamics hold significant consequences (Hannon et al.e.T. This is because the theorising of justice is a central activity of political economic philosophy. just as in ecological humanities. which in itself is a step . theories of justice are enlarged to include ecological values then the necessary result is the synthesis of the concerns of ecology with that of political economy: i.Odum make the controversial suggestion that embodied energy could be understood as value. Political Economic . Moreover as a result of simulating ecological systems with the energy systems language H.

Vol. R. pp. The Literature Machine.  R. . 2. Basil Blackwell. Eckersley (2001) 'Symposium Green Thinking – from Australia'. pp.1.10. pp.  J. References[edit]  Italo Calvino.Rutherford. R.  B.1. No. The University of Chicago Press. Marshall (2002) The Unity of Nature: Wholeness and Disintegration in Ecology and Science.T. 32–60. Environmental Politics.Courtart translated by D.  R. and de Geus. Theoretical Population Biology. Martinez-Alier (1987) Ecological Economics. Modeling Nature. 17. Chapter 5.Costanza and R. Kingsland (1985).4. London. ed. Hannon.  R. London: Imperial College Press. Vol. in Doherty.Ulanowicz (1991) ‘A General Accounting Framework for Ecological Systems: A Functional Taxonomy for Connectivist Ecology’.Burkett (2004) ‘Ecological Economics And Classical Marxism’. M. Foster and P. 85–102. ^ S. 78-104.Organization & Environment.Organization and Environment. Vol. No. The Logic of Leibniz. 40. On Fourier. Chapter 2.Democracy & Green Political Thought: Sustainability. 212–236. Monroe (2002). Eckersley (1996) ‘Greening Liberal Democracy’.  J.  A. pp. London. Eckersley (1998) ‘The Death of Nature and the Birth of Ecological Humanities’. Rights and Citizenship. 2. III: A Utopia of Fine Dust. Vol 11. Routledge. 183–185.B. Picador. No. ^ L. B.

University of Pittsburgh Press. R. 1. a collection of essays.wikipedia. http://en.Cale (1976) ‘Propagation of Cause in Ecosystems’. Colorado University Press. Inter Nationes. 31-2  D.R. 61–75. ed. B. Vol. Boulder. J. Systems Analysis and Systems Simulation in Ecology. 17. U.B. in Patten.T. Marx (1968).  D. Colorado. Rose and L. No.  B. New York. Organization & Environment. Patten.C. Conservation and Cultural Revolution in Soviet Russia. Odum (1994) Ecological and General Systems: An Introduction to Systems Ecology.C. pp.W. Australian Humanities Review.  H.A. Weiner (2000) Models of Nature: Ecology. Academic Press . Podolinsky (2004) ‘Socialism And The Unity Of Physical Forces’. Bad Godesberg. Robin (2004) 'The Ecological Humanities in Action: An Invitation'.Bosserman.  S.Finn and W. K.S. in Karl Marx: 1818/1968.

entitled "Revaluing Nature: Toward an Ecological Literary Criticism. so that now one finds it appearing with some frequency in calls for papers. the term "ecocriticism" has bloomed in usage. and indeed academic job descriptions. critical articles.DEFINING ECOCRITICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE 1994 Western Literature Association Meeting Salt Lake City. at the end of a session entitled. Indications are that acceptance of the term is . "Ecocriticism: Reimagining the Way We Write . Utah--6 October 1994 Introduction The word "ecocriticism" traces back to William Rueckert's 1978 essay "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism" and apparently lay dormant in critical vocabulary until the 1989 Western Literature Association meeting (in Coeur d'Alene).imminent But there's a problem. which came to the fore at the 1993 WLA meeting in Wichita. when Cheryll Glotfelty (at the time a graduate student at Cornell." Since that meeting in 1989. Trouble arose on the last day of the conference. now Assistant Professor of Literature and the Environment at the University of Nevada. Reno) not only revived the term but urged its adoption to refer to the diffuse critical field that heretofore had been known as "the study of nature writing." Cheryll's call for an "ecocriticism" was immediately seconded at that same WLA meeting by Glen Love (Professor of English at the University of Oregon) in his Past President's speech.

still in his seat. all of whom are pondering the question posed by the good man in Wichita: "What is ecocriticism?" Rather than provide the definitive answer. Reno] Sean O'Grady. the writers were asked to consider how our present understanding might lead to future developments. O'Grady and Branch immediately exchanged looks of: "Hey." Gathered here are one-page position papers by sixteen "younger" scholars. Florida International University [now at the University of Nevada. In addition. clearly befuddled. that fellow deserves an answer-"!we all do And thus was born the idea for the session at the 1994 WLA meeting in Salt Lake City. Please use this material as a working document. tried to raise his voice above the haste: "But what IS ecocriticism?" It seems that few people heard him but those who did recognized a voice crying out in the wilderness. both in scholarship and in pedagogy.ponder your own stance toward "ecocriticism Michael P." a session that. Branch. a point of departure from which to ". the point of these papers is to foster an awareness of the varied uses (or non-uses!) to which scholars are putting the term. unfortunately. was left without time for discussion at the end.about the West. As people were gathering up their belongings and streaming toward the doors. Boise State University . "Defining Ecocritical Theory and Practice. an older gentleman.

Black. What Is Eco-Criticism ?Cheryll Glotfelty. What Is Ecocriticism http://www. What Is Ecocriticism ?Thomas . The Ecocritical Heritage ?Kent Ryden.asle. What Is Ecocriticism ?Harry Crockett. Four Ways of Looking at Ecocriticism ?David Taylor. Values. Communication. Some Principles of Ecocriticism Mark Schlenz. Ecocriticism: Storytelling.Position Papers Ralph W. Contact Stan Tag. Dean. What Is Ecocriticism ?Stephanie Sarver. Teague. What Is Ecocriticism ?Nancy Cook. What Is Ecocriticism ?David W. What Is Ecocriticism Ian Marshall. What Is Ecocriticism Don Scheese. What We Talk About When We Talk About Ecocriticism ?Christopher Cokinos. Wallace. Survival Stories: Toward an Ecology of Literary Criticism Scott Slovic. What Is Ecocriticism ?Allison B.

art history. philosophy. psychology. should place become a new critical category? Do men write about nature differently than women do? In what ways has literacy itself affected humankind's relationship to the natural world? How has the concept of wilderness changed over time? In what ways and to what effect is the environmental crisis seeping into contemporary literature and popular culture? What view of nature informs U. government reports. ecocriticism takes an earthcentered approach to literary studies. and ethics? . Ecocritics and theorists ask questions like the following: How is nature represented in this sonnet? What role does the physical setting play in the plot of this novel? Are the values expressed in this play consistent with ecological wisdom? How do our metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it? How can we characterize nature writing as a genre? In addition to race. and Marxist criticism brings an awareness of modes of production and economic class to its reading of texts. and gender.WHAT IS ECOCRITICISM? by Cheryll Glotfelty Simply defined. and what rhetoric enforces this view? What bearing might the science of ecology have on literary studies? How is science itself open to literary analysis? What cross-fertilization is possible between literary studies and environmental discourse in related disciplines such as history. class. ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. Just as feminist criticism examines language and literature from a gender-conscious perspective.S.

specifically the cultural artifacts language and literature.Despite the broad scope of inquiry and disparate levels of sophistication. rather. all ecological criticism shares the fundamental premise that human culture is connected to the physical world. it has one foot in literature and the other on land. examines the relations between writers. Historian Donald Worster argues that humanities scholars have an important role to play: ." we must conclude that literature does not float above the material world in some aesthetic ether. In most literary theory "the world" is synonymous with society--the social sphere. but. matter. Literary theory. in general. it negotiates between the human and the nonhuman. Ecocriticism takes as its subject the interconnections between nature and culture. Most ecocritical work shares a common motivation: the troubling awareness that we have reached the age of environmental limits. affecting it and affected by it. in which energy. but from within our capacity as professors of literature. As a critical stance. as a theoretical discourse. plays a part in an immensely complex global system. a time when the consequences of human actions are damaging the planet's basic life support systems. not just in our spare time. texts. and ideas interact. and the world. that "Everything is connected to everything else. Ecocriticism can be further characterized by distinguishing it from other critical approaches. Ecocriticism expands the notion of "the world" to include the entire ecosphere. This awareness sparks a sincere desire to contribute to environmental restoration. If we agree with Barry Commoner's first law of ecology.

Cheryll Glotfelty. and philosophers. University of Nevada. but even . my emphasis) Literary scholars specialize in questions of value. about the ethical and aesthetic dilemmas posed by the environmental crisis. and about how language and literature transmit values with profound ecological implications. it requires understanding those ethical systems and using that understanding to reform them.We are facing a global crisis today. Historians. point of view. 1993] 27. tradition. Getting through the crisis requires understanding our impact on nature as precisely as possible. (The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination [New York: Oxford UP.asle. not because of how ecosystems function but rather because of how our ethical systems function. meaning. and it is in these areas that we are making a substantial contribution to environmental thinking. along with literary scholars. Consciousness raising is its most important task. Reno http://www. an ecologically focussed criticism is a worthy enterprise primarily because it directs our attention to matters about which we need to be thinking. Ecocritics encourage others to think seriously about the relationship of humans to nature. In my view. and language. but they can help with the understanding. cannot do the reforming. anthropologists. of course.

This organization . This initiative was actualized through the work of the Western Literature Association. In 1990. Cheryll Glotfelty of the University of Nevada in Reno was the first to assume an academic position as professor of Literature and the Environment. examines literature from the perspective of feminine gender. Rueckert published an essay in 1978 entitled "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism. This institution is still considered the .Ecocriticism Ecocriticism is the study of the relationship between literature and the environment. Ecocriticism looks at literature from the perspective of the . ecocriticism was not established as a genre until the mid1980s. Feminist criticism. for instance." This essay offered an outline for the new discipline: "the application of ecology and ecological concepts ".to the study of literature While environmentalism became a popular issue in the late 1960s and 1970s. Various schools of literary criticism examine language and literature from specific perspectives.primary bastion for ecocritical thought Ecocriticism is represented in the United States by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE).ecology It is believed that William Rueckert was the first to use the term ecocriticism. whereas Marxist criticism examines literature from the standpoint of class structure and production.

between that which is human and that which is nonhuman Another way to understand ecocriticism is by comparing it to other literary criticism. Questions will arise: How is nature expressed in this piece? How important is physical plant to the plot? Are the values represented in the text consonant with "green" thinking? Do literary metaphors for land have an impact on how we treat the land? What constitutes nature writing? If class. represents the latest in scholarship on ecocritism." Ecocritics expand on this notion so that "the world" comes . race and gender are critical categories. and how has this affected man's relationship to the ecology? Are United States government reports influenced by a particular ecological view? How has ecology impacted the ?study of literature Though these questions hint at a very wide area of inquiry on different levels. shall place become another such category? Are there differences in the way men and women write about nature? Has literacy changed man's bond to nature? Is the crisis with the environment represented in literature. Literary criticism looks at the relationships among authors. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE). he or she will think about specific issues relating to the ecology. The literary critic takes "the world" to mean "society. writings and the world. The official journal of the ASLE. there is a single basic premise in ecological criticism: that all of human culture is linked to the physical world and is affected by and has an effect on the natural world.holds biennial meetings for ecocritics. As an ecocritic or theorist reads particular texts. The ecocritic's job is to negotiate .

They see everything as a consequence of how humans have damaged the basic life-support system of the planet. According to Barry include all of the ecosphere.can . the ecocritic yearns to take part in restoring the environment not just from time to time but at all . including the study of literature Historian Donald Worster believes that scholars in the humanities can play a significant role in this work. it requires understanding those ethical systems and using that understanding to reform them. the first law of ecology states. language. in every discipline. the literary scholar may use ecocriticism to further . cannot do the reforming. "Everything is connected to everything else.matter. meaning and value. the ecocritic believes that literature is not an esoteric or ethereal presence but one capable of playing a role in a complicated global pattern where everything -. and philosophers." Applying this concept to literature.times.course. of ". tradition. With this awareness at the forefront. an American environmental scientist. along with literary scholars.interact Most ecocritics are driven by the idea that humans are nearing the end of their environmental resources. "Getting through the crisis requires understanding our impact on nature as precisely as possible. energy and ideas -. but they can help with the understanding Those immersed in the study of literature have the habit of delving into point of view." he says. anthropologists. "Historians. Through these perspectives. but even more.

2003 Read preview Overview Literary Darwinism: Evolution. 2006 Read preview Overview The Truth of Ecology: Nature. and Literature in America Dana Phillips. Human Nature. Ecocriticism focuses attention on a matter that is acknowledged by most to be of critical . Routledge. and Literature . Sylvia Mayer. Culture. 2004 Read preview Overview Nature in Literary and Cultural Studies: Transatlantic Conversations on Ecocriticism Catrin Gersdorf. Rodopi.awareness of the environment and the ecology.importance in the modern world Selected full-text books and articles on this topic Ecocriticism Greg Garrard. Oxford University Press.

Joseph Carroll. The Mississippi Quarterly. Mosaic (Winnipeg). No. No. Christine. and the Environments of Victorian Fiction" Read preview Overview Theory from the Fringes: Animals. Mosaic (Winnipeg). 3. Fall 2002 Read preview Overview . 40. 4. Ecocriticism. Shakespeare Estok. Vol. No. 37. Cognitive Ethology. 1. Vol. 55. Routledge. Simon C. Vol. 8 "Ecocriticism. 2004 Librarian’s tip: Chap. September 2004 Read preview Overview The Greening of African-American Landscapes: Where Ecocriticism Meets Post-Colonial Theory Gerhardt. March 2007 Read preview Overview "Loving Ourselves Best of All": Ecocriticism and the Adapted Mind Easterlin. Nancy.

Edinburgh University Press. 170 Read preview Overview Key Concepts in Literary Theory Julian Wolfreys. Kenneth Womack. Routledge.questia. 2006 Librarian’s tip: "Ecocriticism" begins on p. 2001 Librarian’s tip: "Ecocriticism and Science" begins on p. Ruth Robbins.Interdisciplinarity Joe . 121 Read preview Overview http://www.

has defined ecocriticism as “the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. it is.” David Mazel declares it is the analysis of literature “as though nature mattered. a form of activism. one of the pioneers in the field.Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Literature Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Literature Essay .” This study. scholars are still engaged in defining the scope and aims of the subject. and of the relationship between literature and the environment Ecocriticism as an academic discipline began in earnest in the 1990s.Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Literature Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Literature Introduction Ecocriticism and Nineteenth-Century Literature Ecocriticism is the study of representations of nature in literary . in a sense. Because it is a new area of study. which is informed by ecological science. it is argued. cannot be performed without a keen understanding of the environmental crises of modern times and thus must inform personal and political actions. Cheryll Glotfelty.” and Laurence Buell says that this study must be “conducted in a spirit of commitment to environmentalist praxis. women's . although its roots go back to the late 1970s. Many critics also emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of the enquiry. politics.

explorers and natural historians began to write about newly encountered places and wildlife. Native American studies. and history. most scholarship has focused on American and British literature from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. among other academic fields. which was changing the natural landscape. is Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854). The term “ecocriticism” was coined in 1978 by William Rueckert in his essay “Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism.studies. in Massachusetts. This classic of American literature is a poetic narrative describing the two months the author lived in a small cabin in the woods near Walden Pond. and the ecologically oriented work that has been the subject of most literary analysis. Thoreau observes all around him with a keen eye and a philosophical spirit.departments of American universities While ecocritics study literature written throughout history and analyze its relationship to the environment. The nineteenth century especially saw a number of developments in literature that ecocritics view as significant. In his work. describing the ordinary but remarkable creatures and happenings he . and pioneers and other travelers wrote of their experiences with an emphasis on setting. Probably the defining work of nature writing. American and British Romantic writers took a particular interest in nature as a subject. and by the early 1990s ecocriticism had emerged as a recognizable discipline within literature .” Interest in the study of nature writing and with reading literature with a focus on “green” issues grew through the 1980s. Victorian realists wrote about industrialization.

images and attitudes toward the environment Nineteenth century American naturalists and explorers are often credited by ecocritics as having initiated the conservation movement. and a number of minor writers who wrote stories about the Wild West. James Kirke Paulding. Other American writers of the period whose work has been seen as important by ecocritics include William Cullen Bryant. Nathaniel Hawthorne. This essay is the writer's statement on the principles of the philosophy of Transcendentalism. and women. Some critics have argued that the American tradition of nature writing stems from Thoreau's masterpiece.” In this work. They note that the response toward the landscape is far different in works by African-Americans (such as Frederick Douglass). Emerson talks about the mystical unity of nature and urges his readers to enjoy a relationship with the environment.encounters in the natural world and discussing the meaning of living in harmony with nature and one's soul. Some scholars have pointed out that much of the focus of ecocriticism has been nature writing by white men. These writers differ from “literary” authors because their work focuses more on scientific descriptions and speculations about nature. However. Walt Whitman. . Native Americans. A related but distinct field of literary study. James Fenimore Cooper. which he describes as “a hypothesis to account for nature by other principles than those of carpentry and chemistry. ecofeminist literary criticism. examines the representations of nature by women and reveals how they often overturn dominant male . Another landmark American nonfiction work about nature was Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature (1836).

The poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He also worked to prevent the destruction of the environment. particularly the essays collected in Wake Robin (1871) and Birds and Poets. celebrates the beauty and mystery of nature in some of his most famous lyrics. (1877).as many critics have shown. considered by many to be the spokesman of the movement. in the nineteenth century. are John Burroughs and John Muir. William Wordsworth. the Romantic poets reacted strongly against the eighteenth century emphasis on reason and sought new ways of expressing their thoughts and feelings. The two great nineteenth century American naturalists. Burroughs's early work was influenced by Whitman. including “Michael” (1800). which portrays a simple shepherd who is deeply attached to the natural world around him. which became the second national park in the United . their writings are imbued with a poetic spirit that makes their ideas accessible to lay readers. and Percy Shelley also . traveled extensively around the United States and documented his observations in hundreds of articles and ten major books. After reading Charles Darwin and John Fiske. Burroughs turned to scientific speculation about nature and then later in life took a more spiritual view. Muir. John Keats. and The Excursion (1814) is a long philosophical reflection on the relationship of humanity and nature.States In Britain. Wordsworth's autobiographical poem The Prelude (1850) records the poet's evolving understanding of nature. and he is credited with being primarily responsible for preserving the Yosemite Valley in California. Lord Byron. a native of Scotland. most critics agree.

many of them responding to works by writers such as Thoreau and Emerson. Two important books of criticism from the mid twentieth century include Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (1950) and Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden (1964). both of whom lamented the destruction of the . who. unlike the others. and Matthew Arnold. has been called the most inspired lyrical poem describing nature in the English language. Victorian essayists who wrote about nature include John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. The latter work examines the tension between the “pastoral” and “progressive” ideals that characterized early . Later nineteenth century English writers of note include Thomas Hardy. and the preservation of the natural world was one element of their radical thinking. A Romantic poet who used his understanding of nature to protest against the new capitalist machinery was John Clare.includes emotional descriptions of the natural world and features some of the best-known nature verse in English. important critical essays that fall into the ecocritical mold appeared as early as the 1800s. was himself a laborer and worked on the land.environment due to industrialization While ecocriticism had its official beginnings as a discipline in the 1990s. Shelley's “Ode to the West Wind.” to cite one example. whose love poem “Dover Beach” (1867) is said to offer one of the finest descriptions of place in English poetry. in whose novels the sense of place always takes center stage. The Romantic interest in nature is particularly significant to ecocritics because these poets were revolutionary in their politics.

nineteenth century American culture and is considered a classic text in American studies. is a response to the urgent issues of the day.some part in solving real and pressing ecological concerns Representative Works John James Audubon Ornithological Biography (nonfiction) 1831 40 Matthew Arnold Dover Beach” (poetry) 1867“ William Bartram Travels (journal) 1791 William Cullen Bryant Thanatopsis” (poem) 1817“ A Forest Hymn” (poem) 1825“ The Prairies” (poem) 1833“ John Burroughs Notes on Walt Whitman as a Poet and a Person (criticism) 1867 . Ecocriticism aims to show how the work of writers concerned about the environment can play . like the literature it analyzes. one of the reasons that ecocriticism continues to grow as a discipline is the continued global environmental crisis. Such pioneering works show that ecologically oriented criticism is not a new phenomenon but. As critics have pointed out.

25 Feb. Lord Byron Byron to Lord Holland. 1812” (poetry) 1812“ George Caitlin Letters and Notes on the North American Indian (nonfiction) 1841 Thomas Carlyle Reminiscences of My Irish Journey in 1849 (reminiscences) 1882 John Clare Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (poetry) 1820 The Village Mistrel (poetry) 1821 The Shepherd's Calendar (poetry) 1827 The Rural Muse (poetry) 1835 Samuel Taylor Coleridge Kubla Khan” (poem) 1797“ Frost at Midnight” (poem) 1798“ Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (poem) 1798“ James Fenimore Cooper The Pioneers (novel) 1823 .Wake Robin (essays) 1871 Birds and Poets (essays) 1877 George Gordon.

An American Slave (autobiography) 1845 Ralph Waldo Emerson Nature (nonfiction) 1836 The Young American” (lecture) 1844“ Thomas Hardy Far from the Madding Crowd (novel) 1874 The Return of the Native (novel) 1878 The Mayor of Casterbridge (novel) 1886 Tess of the D'Urbervilles (novel) 1891 Jude the Obscure (novel) 1891 Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter (novel) 1850 The Blithedale Romance (novel) 1852 John Keats On First Looking into Chapman's Homer” (poem) 1816 “ Ode to Autumn” (poem) 1820“ Ode to a Nightingale” (poem) 1820“ Clarence King Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (nonfiction) 1872 .Frederick Douglass The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.

Lord Tennyson In Memoriam (poetry) 1850 Henry David Thoreau A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (nonfiction) 1849 Walden.John Muir The Mountains of California (nonfiction) 1894 James Kirke Paulding The Backwoodsman (novel) 1818 John Ruskin Modern Painters (criticism) 1843 The Eagle's Nest: Ten Lectures on Natural Science to Art: Given at Oxford in 1872 (lectures) 1872 The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century (nonfiction) 1884 Percy Shelley Alastor” (poem) 1816“ Mont Blanc” (poem) 1817“ Lines Written among the Euganean Hills” (poem) 1818“ Ode to the West Wind” (poem) 1819“ Alfred. Life in the Woods (nonfiction) 1854 The Maine Woods (nonfiction) 1864 Journals (journals) 1881 92 . or.

(nonfiction) 1808 14 William Wordsworth Lyrical Ballads (poetry) 1798 The Excursion (poetry) 1814 The Prelude (poetry) 1850 Criticism: Overviews Karl Kroeber (essay date 1994) Scott Russell Sanders (essay date 1996) David Mazel (essay date 2001) Criticism: American Literature: Romantics And Realists James Russell Lowell (essay date 1865) . or The Natural History of Birds of the United States. 9 vols.Mark Twain Roughing It (novel) 1872 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (novel) 1885 Gilbert White Natural History of Selborne (nonfiction) 1789 Walt Whitman Specimen Days (nonfiction) 1882 Alexander Wilson American Ornithology.

Philippon (essay date 1998) Michael Bennett (essay date 2001) Criticism: American Explorers And Naturalists Paul Brooks (essay date 1980) Michael Branch (essay date 1996) Chris Beyers (essay date 1998) David Mazel (essay date 2000) Rick Van Noy (essay date 2002) Criticism: English Literature: Romantics And Victorians .Fannie Eckstorm (essay date 1908) Lewis Mumford (essay date 1926) Henry Nash Smith (essay date 1950) Perry Miller (lecture date 1953) Leo Marx (essay date 1964) Wilson O. Daniel (essay date December 1993) Daniel J. Clough (essay date 1964) Roderick Nash (essay date 1967) Janice B.

.Literature and Culture n. Patricia M. no.Press. .Discusses the writings of Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope .Jonathan Bate (essay date 1991) Robert Pogue Harrison (essay date 1992) Karl Kroeber (essay date 1994) Richard Kerridge (essay date 2001) Ralph Pite (essay date 2002) John Parham (essay date 2002) Further Reading CRITICISM Applewhite. 1985.” Nineteenth Century American . Athens: University of Georgia .s. “Charles Dickens and Frances Trollope: Victorian Kindred Spirits in the American Wilderness. 4 (December 1993): 293 306 . James.focusing on the subjective experience of landscape Ard. Seas and Inland Journeys: Landscape and Consciousness from Wordsworth to Roethke. 236 p Attempts to evaluate the relationship between nineteenth century Romantic texts and important literary works of the twentieth century. 7.. .enotes.

Dean Eco-criticism is a study of culture and cultural products (art works. environmental crises are a result of humanity's disconnection from the natural world.WHAT IS ECO-CRITICISM? by Thomas K. All eco-critical efforts are pieces of a comprehensive continuum. . and on and on. eco-criticism is thus a response to scholarly specialization that has gone out of control. historical. problems. Inherently. or crises. Eco-criticism is also a response to needs. In terms of the academy. In large part. including combinations of the above. In order to understand the connectedness of all things--including the life of the mind and the life of the earth--one must reconnect the disciplines that have become sundered through over-specialization. rhetorical. eco-criticism is a response to the need for humanistic understanding of our relationships with the natural world in an age of environmental destruction. etc. pedagogical. eco-criticism is interdisciplinary. eco-criticism must remain "a big tent"--comprehensiveness of perspectives must be encouraged and honored. depending on one's perception of urgency. psychological. Eco-critical approaches. scientific theories. Therefore. can be theoretical. eco-criticism seeks to reattach scholars to each other and scholarship to the real concerns of the world. First. then.) that is in some way connected with the human relationship to the natural world. analytical. writings. Inherent in the idea of interdisciplinarity is the wholistic ideal. thus. a mentality of specialization that fails to recognize the interconnectedness of all things. brought about not only by increasing technology but also by particularization. that is.

socially activist or even spiritual. the philosophies and understandings of different ethnic groups will be shared by all. Eco-criticism. Eco-criticism can be. it is that very wholistic view that marks it off from the particularized critical approaches of the past that have led to the types of disconnections that eco-criticism seeks to heal. then. politically active. A wholistic view of the universe is a value-centered one that honors the interconnectedness of things. Dean. as it advocates for an understanding of the world that works to heal the environmental wounds humans have inflicted upon it. as eco-criticism invites all perspectives into its tent in order to understand thehuman relationship to the universe. be they creatures of the earth. for individuals who choose to make it so. when it translates into action. but need not be. While some may criticize eco-criticism for being undisciplined because of such comprehensiveness. it generally comes back to its home ground--the human relationship with the earth. can be. Cardinal Stritch College (now at University of Iowa) http://www. eco-criticism also has an inherent ideological if not moral component. or ethnic backgrounds. As the interconnectedness of things is valued. critical . For example. Thomas K.asle.As a response to felt needs and real crises. and as an inherently wholistic practice. spiritual beliefs. so too is the integrity of all things. Although eco-criticism can touch virtually any discipline.

1996). also known as ecological or environmental literary criticism. history. and in 1990. science and literature. Early critics were generally unaware of others working on similar topics and created their own environmental approaches to the study of literature (Glotfelty. However. literary scholars have long maintained an interest in nature. 1996). Although most other humanities began to develop environmental subfields in the 1970s. Early work now associated with ecocriticism was initially categorized under headings such as American studies. interdisciplinary field. Alicia Nitecki founded the American Nature Writing Newsletter. ecology and biology. 1996). 1996). regionalism. pastoralism. human ecology. University English departments soon began to offer programs in environmental literature. sociology. the first academic position in literature and the environment was created at the University of Nevada. drawing on disciplines such as environmental studies. and cultural studies. an initial effort to unite the field (Glotfelty. and landscape in literature (Glotfelty. It is a diverse. the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) was founded. philosophy. Despite ecocriticism’s relatively late establishment. is an emerging subfield of English literature with American origins. Reno (Glotfelty. ecocriticism did not become a recognized field until the 1990s. In 1992.Ecocriticism Introduction Ecocriticism. the frontier. in 1989. with Scott Slovic as its first .

Ecocriticism soon began to be recognized as a critical approach to the study of English literature . defining ecocriticism as “the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. ‘Literature and ecology: An experiment in ecocriticism.pbworks. Early writers have also been influential in creating foundational works shaping the field today.” (Glotfelty.president. xviii). It is intentionally broad and inclusive. 1996. William Rueckert first coined the term ecocriticism in his 1978 essay. in the same way that feminist criticism brings an awareness of gender and Marxist criticism highlights production and economic class. 1996) http://ecolit. 1996. where ecological principles are used to relate poems to the natural world. p.( Defining the Field The most widely quoted definition of ecocriticism was written by Cheryl Glotfelty in 1996. In 1993. 107).’ where ecocriticism denotes “the application of ecology and ecological concepts to the study of literature” (Rueckert.pathways and green plants . p. Glotfelty (1996) explains that ecocriticism takes an earth-centred approach to the study of literature. the journal Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE) was founded by Patrick Murphy and is now the main journal for ecocritical publications. Here Rueckert introduces an ecology of poetry. comparing poems to energy .

written in 1972.In The Comedy of Survival. and its interplay with industrialism. Rosendale. on the other hand. 1996. taking examples from British literature and looking at images in relation to history (Williams. Joseph Meeker used the term literary Similarly. 1972. Meeker (1972) views this work as an exploration of the connections between human cultural production and the possibility of balanced ecological . 1973). Marx examines American pastoralism. meaning “the study of biological themes and relationships which appear in literary works” (Meeker. providing a cultural history of attitudes toward nature and industrial technology in literature (Buell. Glen Love’s essay (1990) provides a significant definition of purpose for ecocriticism (Glotfelty. its use in interpreting American experience. p. 2002). He looks at the relationships between country and city. 9).first works to examine Romanticism from an environmental perspective Emphasizing a more activist mode of ecocriticism. Bate’s work in Romantic Ecology: Wordsworth and the Environmental Tradition (1991) follows this British tradition of ecocriticism. 2005). as one of the . 1964). presents a British perspective on nature and urbanism in literature (Buell. Marx writes from an American perspective. Love asserts that literary scholars must respond to the environmental crisis by replacing anthropocentric . Leo Marx’s early work The Machine in the Garden (1964) and Raymond Williams’ The Country and the City (1973) have helped to establish current ecocritical theory. Williams. 2005). seeking connections between literature and culture (Marx.

:ecocriticism asks basic questions such as  How is nature represented in this sonnet?  What role does the physical setting play in the plot of this novel?  Are the values expressed in this play consistent with ecological wisdom?  How do our metaphors of the land influence the way we treat it? (Glotfelty. and art play in this relation? . using realism instead of poststructuralism to evaluate nature in literature. Furthermore. 2002). and many others. 1996. Rosendale. Today. Love (1990) argues that ecocriticism may be the best way to counteract the growing obscurity of English literary study. Love’s ideas are . He advocates for three radical shifts in literary criticism: replacing the humancentred canon with more nature-oriented texts.concerns with ecocentric ones (Love. p. 1990. ecological perspectives (Rosendale.still used in ecocritical studies today These early works. literature. have formed a foundation for ecocritical study while also inspiring contemporary work. 2002). and replacing nationalist perspectives with global. xviii-xix) :And more environmentally-focused questions such as  In what ways do highly evolved and self-aware beings relate to nature?  What roles do language.

constructivism. incorporating theory from diverse disciplines. p. poststructuralism. Some critics work in related areas such as ecofeminism. and deep ecology Many scholars agree that a broad range of work can be included in the field. Ecocritics have been careful to use broad definitions. inclusive of many forms of work. but is instead united by a common domain of inquiry and often an activist approach (Buell. p. 2006). 2005. Estok (2007) explains that some of the meaning of the term ecocriticism may have been lost in this expansion. as the field has had trouble in defining its scope and goals and is still seeking a central paradigm. Heise.ecosublime. Ecocriticism does not yet bring new critical methods to the study of literature. Due to the diversity of the field. 504). 2007). From simple definitions such as “the study of literature as if the environment mattered” (Mazel. 2006. and what would be the cultural prerequisites for such a change? (Heise. 1) to more complex iterations of the political . and narrative scholarship. ecocomposition. Ecocritics draw on a variety of critical methods in literary study. How have modernization and globalization processes transformed it?  Is it possible to return to more ecologically attuned ways of inhabiting nature. the . 2001. so the field has become heterogeneous (Estok. Most also agree that an activist approach is important to ecocriticism. Such questions reflect only a small portion of the variety of inquiry taking place in ecocriticism. it can often be difficult to define ecocritical work. such as realism. ecopoetics.

that literature and criticism can have an impact on environmental . cities. and legislation. and Barry Lopez.role of environmental concern in ecocriticism. and mountains (Glotfelty. Critics identified stereotypes – Eden. 1996. technology. Arcadia. Rachel Carson. 2005) http://ecolit. by Gilbert White. 1996). Buell. 1996).com/w/page/18498890/Defining%20the %20Field Development and Trends Early American ecocriticism has three initial phases (Glotfelty. Topics of study included nature in general as well as other ecological elements like animals. The first is the study of how nature is represented in literature.pbworks. Scholars studied nature-oriented nonfiction. rivers. The second phase involved rediscovering the genre of nature writing (Glotfelty. scholars continue to refine this aspect of the field. The final phase is theoretical. 1996).consciousness and culture at large (Buell. where scholars worked to form frameworks like ecopoetics and addressed issues such as the construction of humanity in literature (Glotfelty. These ideas are based in a belief that human culture and imagination are just as important to solving environmental problems as are scientific research. the virgin land. Annie Dillard. which began with A Natural History of Selbourne (1789). This study continues today with American authors like Henry Thoreau. . 1996). the savage wilderness – and absences of nature in literature.

New Zealand. is constantly changing and incorporating new ideas (Buell. ecocriticism. among others. and British Romanticism (Heise. poetry. even those that do not explicitly address environmental concerns (Buell. drama. Furthermore. especially nature writing. 2005). Native American/Canadian writing. 2006) and a survey of recent dissertations reveals that . Today. Europe. with work being done in Canada. India. as an emerging area of study. the United Kingdom. Buell. Australia. Korea.2005) The ecocritical canon has similarly expanded to include works beyond nature writing. Early ecocritics like Love and Rueckert looked to science for critical models. 2003. . Ecocriticism began with the study of environmental texts. twentieth-century American literature. 2005). However. Ecocritics initially expressed a desire for closer alliances with environmental and natural sciences (Buell. Japan. 2005). . As such. nature. ecocriticism continues to expand beyond its American beginnings. and mainstream genres such as science fiction (works by authors like Ursula K. African American literature. and the environment as it grows. and India. but it has now expanded to include the ecocritical reading of any text (Branch & Slovic.While many of the themes above continue to be studied today.American critics continue to dominate the field Ecocriticism has also modified its views of science. there is still little work done in languages other than English (Heise. women’s writing. 2006). Fiction. all texts are considered to have environmental properties. Le Guin and Octavia Butler) have all become material for ecocriticism.

and human exposure to technological or ecological risk (Heise. 2006) Finally. the natural and urban environments blend together as ecocritics consider the interplay of anthropocentric and ecocentric issues (Buell. These include the “challenge of organization”. Ecocriticism now faces the challenge of redefining the relationship between ecology and literature in the field . 2005. the term environment represented only the natural environment (Buell. the “challenge of defining distinctive models of critical inquiry”. 2006).(Heise. providing values and ethics against which to evaluate texts but generally not providing critical models (Buell. globalization. Furthermore. however. p.cultural construct (Heise. 2005). Heise. Buell (2005) highlights four challenges for the future of ecocriticism. the “challenge of professional legitimation”. Today. Urban environments have increasingly become subjects of study in literature and ecocriticism is now seen as both a product of modernization and a movement against environmental degradation (Heise. where the environment is examined as a . Nature was viewed as separate from and victim to humanity (Heise. These trends are exemplified in the recent ecocritical interest in topics of environmental justice. 128). a poststructuralist approach to ecocriticism has emerged. and the “challenge of establishing significance beyond the academy” (Buell. 2006). 2005. social and racial inequality. 2006) At has a more indirect impact on ecocriticism. 2005). These are all works in progress in .ecocriticism and will continue to develop as the field grows . 2006). 2006).

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I52 D74 2002 -Dreese. 1968 American Indian literature.Egan. (Donelle Nicole).N3 R83 2007 Rudd.LC sections: PS153 Ecocriticism : creating self and place in environmental and American Indian literatures PS153 . Gillian Green Shakespeare : from ecopolitics to ecocriticism PR3039 . environmental justice. Gabriel Earlier Works (published before 2000) LC sections: P48. 1958 British Literature and Ecocriticism LC sections: PR275.I52 A33 2001X -Adamson. PS163 .E35 2006 . Joni. PN81. PR3039 Greenery : ecocritical readings of late medieval English literature PR275 . and ecocriticism : the middle place PS153 . Donelle N.

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197-209 Parham. Bridging the great divide: Ecocritical theory and . Hampshire.Georgia Press Williams. 31(4). GA: University of . Athens. (Ed. The ecocriticism reader: Landmarks in literary ecology (pp. (1996). Fromm (Eds.University Press of Virginia Estok. (1973). S. The country and the city. English Studies in Canada. & Wallace..the great unwashed. UK: Ashgate . The environmental tradition in English . 105-123). R. Charlottesville: . C.). (2002). Iowa City: University of Iowa . (2001). theory. K. and the environment. K. (2005). S. (Eds.). The greening of literary scholarship: Literature. In C. Literature and ecology: An experiment in ecocriticism. J.University Press Additional Works Consulted Armbruster.). Beyond nature writing: Expanding the boundaries of ecocriticism.Press Rueckert. (2002). (Ed. Glotfelty & H.literature. W. R.).Rosendale. New York: Oxford .

Salt Lake City: University of Utah . Ecosublime: Environmental awe and terror from . & Harrington. . (Eds.Rozelle.pbworks. Tuscaloosa. (2006). (2000).Press http://ecolit. H. J.). Reading under the sign of nature: New essays in world to oddworld. AL: University of Alabama Press Tallmadge.

politics. psychology. . like a woman. The award of this year's Nobel Peace prize to African environmentalist Wangari Maathai is a big boost to eco-criticism in the study of the continent's literature. Since postcolonial readings of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. An elated Wangari Maathai receives news of the Nobel Peace Prize: "She was recognised for her environmentalist efforts. For over three decades. she has been advocating the rights of forests and women. the rights of the easily overlooked "other". and although she is not a literary personality. a relatively new approach to literature. has dominated cultural discussions on Africa. Prof Maathai is the first African woman to win the award. pedagogy and philosophy. the Western view of Africa as a baffling space which. is the study of the inter-relationship between art and the natural world." Although African critics have over the years examined the relationship between literature and other forms of social consciousness such as morality. there are a few poems dedicated to her and her "green" campaign. a more conscious insertion of the study of environment in criticism would help us understand literature better and appreciate the art's interaction with other forms of human practice. has to be tamed and controlled.NOBEL PRIZE: A SHOT IN THE ARM FOR AFRICAN ECOCRITICISM by Evan Mwangi The Nation (Nairobi) 24 October 2004. Eco-criticism.

eco-criticism focuses mainly on the 19th century literature which celebrated nature and wildness. is set in a village called Umuofia which is the Igbo word for "children of the forest". ranging from Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart to Zakes Mda's Heart of Redness. It is rarely practised consciously in the African academy. "Reversing Conrad's male characters' view of the African forest as a site of death. Since the publication of William Rueckert's 1978 essay "Literature and Ecology". African texts. have attempted to valorise the "forest" as a possible site of development which didn't hear about civilisation for the first time from the urbanised West. like forests. In Africa.African literature has responded to the views expressed by Conrad's male characters. although expressions like "man's struggle with the environment" are often heard in literary essays. eco-criticism entered rural universities in America in the 1980s and in Britain in the 1990s. in the margins of mainstream literary theory." Things Fall Apart typifies African village life and its richness . Also called the "green theory". Achebe's Things Fall Apart. But it remains. In the West. It is no accident that the most widely read African text. from whose perspective Conrad presents the story in order to mock imperialists. eco-criticism has emerged as one of the fresh ways of explaining the nature and function of art. it would be more energetic because most of the literature has a rural setting or a degenerate urban background that expresses a longing for the lost rural peace.

a rich philosophy. More profound than Wakimbizi's exercise in sexual references is a richer body of African verse that weaves the natural environment into its themes to enhance the cognitive and political value of images of African natural to have come to introduce. not to mention a complex religion and medical practice. the Wakimbizi trio of Mr Filter (Henry Masheti). the enigmatic "John" is prefigured as the toast of womenfolk who hides in a mysterious "msitu" (forest/bush). . an organic self-sustaining forest which has almost everything that the West . To give but one simple example. the playful panegyric (praise song) to male genitals that seem to have run away from duty indicates African respect for forests. there is a system of education. Incidentally. despite the vulgarity in Wakimbizi's song "John". In the song. In the forests of Umuofia. human regeneration and most intense bodily pleasures are likely to occur. Through sexual overtones. even the most jocular of African art expresses this deep interaction between literary imagination and the natural its arrogance . the clarity of symbolism around which the main conflict is built in Ngugi wa Thiong'o's The River Between. and sophisticated art. another African classic. resides in the way the author opens the narrative with a meticulous observation of the topography as he painstakingly describes Makuyu and Kameno ridges and valleys. Mariko (Morris Masheti) and Andre (Andrew Mbogo) present the forest as the figurative site upon which self-protection.

Rungano captures a moment of triumph in the afternoon sun after a storm. to underline nature as regenerative.In her writing. Zimbabwean poet Kristina Rungano invokes the environment in the form of grass. and images of "virgin clouds" replace the gloom that ruled life just hours earlier. In the poem "After the Rain". We see the flourish of nature as "leaves bristled in the woods". In a collection of poetry entitled A Storm is Brewing. the ruler of the night) who is personified as a potent man. Rungano deploys images of turmoil succeeded by serenity and bounties from nature to underline that the African environment wouldn't harm us despite the enigma that it generates. Rungano presents a female persona recalling a moment of love with the cosmos (Dynamo. The speaker longs for that . In the poem "This Morning". the earlier deaths are replaced by peace. The poet complexly conflates the beauties of nature and the qualities of male and female love. butterflies. Rungano's verse is loaded with images of the life-giving powers of nature which intersect with the resilience of the African woman to widen human possibilities. Written from a woman's perspective unlike Wakimbizi's malecentred "John". and the weather to comment on political and social issues facing her nation and underline the possibilities of the end of the prevailing confusion. Human life still seems to fear the world because of the tumult of the past. trees. but the poem foresees absolute peace as people anticipate "the same familiar beautiful Zimbabwe" where nature (symbolised by lightning) is tame and friendly.

We experience figures of "tornados" "ploughing the sky with mad/plumes".moment when she is interlocked with the life-giving forces of the environment in complete harmony. the African environment is political. Liberation African poetry invokes nature to foreshadow the revolution that would rock the continent when the oppressed rise up in arms against the oppressor. "O gentle breeze/ o fireflies that hovered over our nest in protective harmony. even the little shrubs bloom" to mark the union of the persona with the enchanting powers of the environment. African literature doesn't blindly celebrate the forests. the grass. If forests served as the sanctuaries for freedom fighters. symbols of . nature itself seemed to presage and support armed struggle. the metaphor of the forest is unflattering because the books. uses sharp images drawn from nature to show the environment as sympathetic with the fight for human rights. she presents parrots that "explode" as they fly." The whole universe rejoices their love. In the poem "Landscape". Beyond love and romance. The forests can be a source of death and impotence if used inappropriately. Maria Manuela Margarido from Sao Tome. where the Portuguese army and a band of white settlers massacred innocent people in February 1953. These symbols drawn from the environment express the anguish of the people struggling against colonialism. as "flowers. When Lawino (Acholi for "woman") in Okot p'Bitek's Song of Lawino laments that her husband's house is "a dark forest of books". The land joins in the passionate condemnation of colonial atrocities. As presented in the poem. nature is caring in this act of the couple's bodily pleasure. Yet.

for the study of African literature? Yes. that form the forest have rendered Ocol ineffective. Then. thus claiming that literature reflects itself as opposed to holding a mirror to the world. While current theories would have us believe that the world is a social construct that is primarily mediated through language.asle. yet another theory among many others. wouldn't we be worsening the situation by proposing eco-criticism. not as a place of hiding from reality. like "John" in Wakimbizi's song and Ocol in p'Bitek's Song of Lawino. through very difficult language.Westernisation. and that everything is all but a fictional construct. Wangari Maathai's recognition by the world for her environmentalist efforts gives African eco-criticism a much-needed shot in the arm. To echo the words of poet Miriam Were. critics want to "run out of mud" and station themselves in sophisticated academic spaces where they can theorise and abstract issues from reality. Literary studies are experiencing a crisis because of a "forest" of theories that obscure human values. away from the realities of their African surroundings. Critics now hide in a forest of theories which. http://www. eco-critics maintain the environmentalist ethical emphasis on a world beyond the text and beyond the reader. the African elite seize the slightest opportunity to bolt to the . de-emphasise the link between art and the environment. In a word. The poetry approves of forests only as life-giving natural forms that sustain human development and liberation.

1 I trace my interest in ecocriticism also to intellectual historians. Cohen . baby I'm sinkin' down . Out of Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden (1964). symbolic West and the actualities. . simultaneously. Lord.1 (Jan. Out of Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land (1950). Perry Miller. . the limits of environmental factors.critique of American ideas of the West Environmental historian John Opie traces his academic interest to the intellectual historian. Many writers who later would call themselves environmental historians or ecocritics began by reading a few books after World War II that opened both of these traditions of inquiry. came an awareness of the disparity between the imagined. came the premise that a culture sees its land according to its desires.BLUES IN THE GREEN: ECOCRITICISM UNDER CRITIQUE by Michael P. 2004): 9-36 Standin' at the crossroads. a history and .Environmental History 9. these books pursued. and this is worked out by . Robert Johnson -- ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORIANS and ecocritics—scholars who combine literary and historical criticism of texts about nature—share common roots. Directed toward historians and literary critics. risin' sun goin' down got the crossroad blues this mornin'.

Scholars like Annette Kolodny added gender to the reading. he found colleagues in Donald Hughes.following the pastoral ideal in American imagination. many of us now study to inform.2 Opie also remembers "interest in something definable as environmental history. came the thesis that a culture finds what it seeks. At the same time that these writers have explored how we imagine where we live and what we have done to our living spaces. When he organized sessions at the AHA in 1972. ecocritics read texts by Clarence King. and as we now say. Out of Roderick Nash's Wilderness and the American Mind (1967). and at the American Studies Association in 1975. Samuel Hays.sustainably Like environmental historians. and Mary Austin. The ecocritic . Historians and literary critics share these books. . We read their lives too. came the idea that a structural link between mind and land was drawn directly from discussions at the Sierra Club wilderness conferences. Out of William Goetzmann's Exploration and Empire (1966). as he later commented. John Muir.and Donald Worster As historians and literary critics sometimes move beyond traditional literary and historical studies of intersecting American nature and culture toward the question of what it would mean to act wisely. 1973. and 1976. . John Wesley Powell. they and others writing in this tradition also care to value and protect these spaces. that people may live well. "Wilderness protection lacked an historical perspective" then." beginning for him with a long camping trip to the West and wilderness.

Ecocriticism has an agenda.Cheryll Glotfelty. caught inside a self-enclosed definition of culture that only mirrors your own obnoxious little selfregarding angst-ridden egomaniacal crypto-smugness. like historians. speaks as if she were nature and as if speaking to culture." 4 In ecocriticism. When culture dismisses her position. . "Ecocriticism's new. if not satirized . began to explore the different kinds of knowledge that compete in the same places and result in diverging gendered values about those places. still finding its feet. If you want to be an ecocritic. This will require explanation." The response she gets is not surprising: "Culture is a refuge from life in nature. It could help you out of the bind you're in now. Literary scholars. and herself.3 What Ecocritics Do ECOCRITICISM FOCUSES on literary (and artistic) expression of human experience primarily in a naturally and consequently in a culturally shaped world: the joys of abundance.criticized. positions reveal themselves as persons. be prepared to explain what you do and be . So the voice of ecocriticism speaks as an American woman here. As a feminist film theorist says to an Israeli semiotician in a recent novel of academic life.. sorrows of deprivation. who studied Sarah Orne Jewett as a graduate student. the process would seem to be self-defeating. and fears of loss and disaster. not a part of it .. but it offers a broad vision of life and our place in nature. hopes for harmonious existence. have reached out to other disciplines to understand those different kinds of knowledge.

Rather than defining ecocriticism at the first meeting of English 745:
Seminar in Ecocriticism and Theory—the required methods course for
students concentrating on literature and environment at the University of
:Nevada, Reno—I ask several very basic questions
?What do ecocritics read
?How do ecocritics read
?What are the grounds of their methods
?Where do they acquire authority
?How do they write
?What contributions do they hope to make
?How do they accept critiques of their methods
I belabor these basics because entering into critical controversy
requires understanding where positions come from. Gerald Graff calls this
technique "learning by controversy" and says it may offer a partial
solution to the "angrily polarized debates of our time." He hopes this
strategy may become "a model of how the quality of cultural debate in our
society might be improved."


I am hoping that ecocriticism will learn by

So I claim that ecocriticism is not immune from the contemporary
arguments about culture. I gloss ethical inquiry with the work of Geoffrey
Galt Harpham.6 Ethics does not give answers easily, as Harpham points
out; we must build an ethical criticism as a site where we think. "Ethics is,
rather, the point at which literature intersects with theory, the point at

which literature becomes conceptually interesting and theory becomes
humanized." Consequently, "Ethics does not solve problems, it structures
them."7 By definition, or at least by etymology, ecocritical theory
structures discussions of environmental literature, drawing upon science,
history, and philosophy, while critiquing these sources. Otherwise,
ecocriticism would become a place where literature meets popular
prejudice and would have little more than sociological interest as the
unexamined views of literature professors who are also amateur
Personal Roots: The Example of Glen Love
WHEN GLEN LOVE, professor of English at the University of Oregon,
considers how he became a professional ecocritic, he recalls two books
that influenced him in the early 1960s: Leo Marx's The Machine in the
Garden (1964) and Rachel Carson's best selling Silent Spring (1962). Love
was frightened by the prophetic parable Carson introduced, that "The
People had done it to themselves," but he also was dismayed by Marx,
who sounded "a decidedly premature epitaph for the place of nature in
American thought and culture ... In the dying fall with which Marx's book
closes, the old pastoral idea is described as 'stripped ... of most, if not all,
of its meaning,' a victim of the inexorable 'reality of history.'"8
Love thought Marx "surely correct in delineating so memorably the
increasing domination of machine civilization in America." But Marx
announced the end of nature; Carson caught something deeper, "the

ecological complexity of nature, the impossibility of its complete control
by human beings, and the obstinacy with which Americans would resist
any dismissal into history and literary irony what Marx had rightly called
'the root conflict of our culture.'" Marx's book appeared in the same year
as the passage of the Wilderness Act, written in language that conceded
the "increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and
growing mechanization," yet also defined areas in the United States
"where earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where
man himself is a visitor who does not himself remain."9 Love believed, as
Carson had, that "The most important function of literature today is to
redirect human consciousness to a full consideration of its place in a
threatened natural world."10 This task demanded personal ethical
commitment, though he also felt Marx's intellectual method guiding parts
.of his professional life
Caught between thinking as Marx or as Carson, Love had no
immediate way out of this dilemma. Ecocriticism would offer that way, as
a literary inquiry that "encompasses nonhuman as well as human contexts
and considerations," on which it "bases its challenge to much postmodern
critical discourse as well as to critical systems of the past." 11 If the
postmodern insists that there is no privileged discourse, Love has been
.willing to privilege certain forms
Imagine that ecocriticism has evolved in a constrained design-space
that includes certain privileged discourses. Call this space the landscape
of ecocriticism. Imagine that this landscape was constructed not by

and the West.Jackson Turner. class. Like the voice in "Walking. as understood in political terms. especially as invented in "Walking. from the West to the East Ecocriticism has been defined as the work of scholars who "would rather be hiking. biocentric. or in philosophical terms. dare I say. from preservation to conservation. or as inherited from Frederick . or alternately from nature to culture.13 Until recently. ecocriticism's inherited cultural construction.biologist Carson or ecologist Aldo Leopold.its inherited interests Many ecocritics have imagined also the evolution of the landscapes they represent as having gone from nature to culture on a one-way path. from wilderness to garden. and confront." to speak for nature. natural. and Roderick Nash. and western pole. Marx himself inherited the pastoral as part of a discourse where there are poles along a linear array of possible landscapes. or. Marx projected these as ideological positions from which speakers emerged. and ethnicity have fixed themselves as positions within the design space. ecocriticism did not consider that other lines of reasoning would cross. Topical considerations of gender. chief founder of Earth First! . . For us these have become speakers from wilderness to civilization. while conflating these terms." It grasped the language of Thoreau.12 Ecocriticism found its position by conflating languages near the wild. wildness. but by a tradition of American literary studies that includes Marx. Henry Nash Smith." as Dave Foreman. "to hell in a hand basket. from biocentric or ecocentric to anthropocentric. race." it found a position and a relation to an urban audience.

would put it. Mind you, this trajectory may or may not be the true path of
history! My point is that it is an influential position within ecocriticism. To
dismiss it as declensionist or apocalyptic may be simplistic, given the
state of the world. Ecocriticism certainly sings something like the blues:
"... "My baby left me and run all over town ... Oh come back please
Glen Love's reminiscence reveals a major challenge for ecocriticism,
its ability to adhere to a social and political program while accepting
a critique of the way it structures ethical issues. A point I take from his
recognition of the importance of Marx is the simultaneity of the
appearance of modern (even if nostalgic) preservation proposals, for wild
and/or pastoral landscapes, with critiques of the ideologies behind these
proposals, and vice-versa. Within this structure of proposal and critique
one could pair Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild with William
Cronon's "The Trouble With Wilderness," and Simon Schama's Landscape
and Memory with Lawrence Buell's The Environmental Imagination. More
recently, Dana Phillips's The Truth of Ecology offers a panoramic critique
of ecology and criticism.14
In all disciplines, positions emerge in quasi-dialectical ways. Here,
an expression of the need for social action is met at inception by critique,
suggesting that ecocriticism must expect collisions of positions and
prepare to critique its own critical methodology and program, while not
paralyzing its own "real work."15

Already, ecocritics are becoming retrospective. An example might
be the introduction to Lawrence Buell'sWriting for an Endangered World.
To Buell's accurate statement I would make a much stronger case for
interdisciplinary work and for place-based case studies. Not that we
should think like scientists (or economists, or game theoreticians) but that
we should know how they think.16
Institutional Origins of ASLE
BORN OUT OF disparity, perhaps discordant harmony, between
inherited positions within the discipline(s) of literature, ecocriticism has
currency within The Association for the Study of Literature and
Environment (ASLE), established in 1992 at a special session of a Western
Literature Association conference in Reno, Nevada. ASLE now has groups
in Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Korea whose purposes
include sharing of facts, ideas, and texts concerning the study of literature
and the environment.17 ASLE publishes ASLE News (biannually) and, since
1993, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE), the
.official biannual journal
According to its official statement of editorial policy, ISLE "reflects the
rapid growth of ecological literary criticism and environmental scholarship
in related disciplines in the United States and around the world in recent
years, which in turn reflects the steady increase in the production of
environmental literature over the past several decades and the increased
visibility of such writing in college classrooms." ISLE "seeks to encourage
such scholarship, writing, and teaching, while facilitating the development

of a theoretical foundation for these activities. It also seeks to bridge the
".gaps between scholars, artists, students, and the public
ASLE's "Graduate Handbook" states that pursuing a degree in
literature and environment "implies investigating the body of literature
sometimes referred to as 'nature writing' or 'environmental literature'; or
examining literature through an 'ecocritical' lens."18
Methods include traditional author/work approaches: biographical
studies of nature writers.19 Studies often are defined in regional
("Contemporary Southwestern Environmental Literature"), historical
("Nature Writing of Nineteenth-Century New England"), or generic terms
(essays, poetry, fiction and other genres from a given region or time
In the discourse of ASLE, the terms "green" and "ecocritical" are
often synonyms for a particular set of approaches toward texts, as in
"green reading." Gioia Woods includes the following literary questions:
"How is nature represented in this text? How is wilderness constructed?
How is urban nature contrasted with rural or wild nature? ... What role
does science or natural history play in a text? What are the links between
gender and landscape? Is landscape a metaphor? How does
"?environmental ethics or deep ecology inform your reading
Most ASLE members pursue academic careers in English
departments. The ASLE web site notes that the six most prominent
graduate programs include Antioch New England, in environmental

Gary Nabhan. Ofelia Zepeda. Reno. in environmental studies and the environmental writing institute. environmental justice and postcolonial issues. University of Nevada. including studies of "urban nature. and Simon Ortiz The shape of these conferences is central to ASLE's agenda." places (such as literature of the sea).Oregon. Lawrence Buell.studies.Sheets-Johnson. Eugene. All this group harmony imports the ideology of the environmental groups from which ASLE sprang and can . in English.studies. University of Montana. people play guitars and sing campfire songs. Arizona (19–23 June 2001) and Boston. in Flagstaff. Leo Marx. genre studies. where evolutionary science has played a growing role Recent plenary speakers have included Grace Paley. The last two Biennial ASLE Conferences. Native American literature. and the University of . and interdisciplinary . Sam Bass Warner. In the evenings. in English. Maxine . in English and environmental studies ASLE has sponsored five major conferences since 1995. Missoula. Annette Kolodny. in comparative cultural and literary studies. E. O. Massachusetts (3–7 June 2003). pedagogy. were organized so that participants could follow sequential sets of "tracked" sessions on themes or methods. University of California. Wilson. A remarkable informality at ASLE conferences makes them seem more like a summer camp or retreat. Davis. Sandra Steingraber. University of Arizona. Joseph Carroll. Tucson. Janisse Ray. The idea borrowed from environmental organizations is that informality fosters community.

Joseph Meeker's The Comedy of Survival (1972). "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism. The Ecocriticism Reader (1996). Ecocriticism takes as its subject the interconnectedness between nature and culture.result in preaching to the chorus. In "Literary Studies in an Age of Environmental Crisis. but what if people are spending more time learning to play folksongs than learning literary ?methods? What if ecocritical thinking is fuzzy A Branching Tree of Ecocritical Methods CHERYLL GLOTFELTY." Rueckert suggests that the grounds of the method be acquired from the science of ecology.23 Ecocritics wrestle with constantly changing scientific paradigms ."21 Glotfelty's view is wider than that in William Rueckert's founding essay of 1978. it negotiates between the human and the nonhuman. Another foundational work. "[A]s a theoretical discourse. specifically the cultural artifacts of language and literature." she notes that ecocriticism asks a wide-ranging set of questions. co-editor of a widely used introductory textbook. affecting it and affected by it. has come under attack recently because its versions of human evolution and ecology are now dated. and she insists "all ecological criticism shares the fundamental premise that human culture is connected to the physical world. 22 This premise has resulted in a great deal of trouble." where he defines the "eco" in ecocriticism as "the application of ecology and ecological concepts to the study of literature. Everyone is friendly. maps the methods of ecocriticism.

John ." allows him to set out a "checklist" of four :points that characterize an "environmentally oriented work.interest Human accountability to the environment is part of the text's ethical . John Muir." in specifically "environmental texts." Lawrence Buell's interest in "the nature of environmental representation. ecocritics focused on "nature writing.orientation Some sense of the environment as a process rather than as a constant or a given is at least implicit in the text. as I shall argue.24 Initially.25 Collecting Nature Writing in Anthologies BUELL'S DESCRIPTION of the "environmental text" reveals the kinds of questions the ecocritic wants to ask and also the roots of ecocriticism." They are The nonhuman environment is present not merely as a framing device but as a presence that begins to suggest that human history is . which sought its origins first among authors who were heirs to American Romanticism and its tradition: Henry David Thoreau.implicated in natural history The human interest is not understood to be the only legitimate .and findings. these problems are only partially clarified by historical studies and critiques of concepts of ecology—scientific and popular.

and Michael Branch's Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing before Walden. Notable extended examples of recovery include Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson's editions of the writings of Susan Fenimore Cooper. Utah. rereading the classics from a 'green' perspective and beginning to frame their subject in a theoretical way." as in recovering "early" nature writing. Mary Austin.Burroughs. Annie Dillard. ecocritics are rediscovering early writers.27 "In much the same way [as in the development of feminist theory].28 Several university presses have brought out ecocritical monographs. including Wallace Stegner.Island Press also have substantial lists . John McPhee. Virginia. and more modern writers. Iowa. SUNY.26 Cheryll Glotfelty frames the work of "canon-formation. and New England." Anthologizing continues to be a major project that shapes the questions ecocritics ask. Wendell Berry. Edward Abbey. and Rachel Carson. MIT. Aldo Leopold. These include Georgia. Gary Snyder. Barry Lopez. using a broad analogy between ecocriticism's aims and Elaine Showalter's model of feminist critical aims. Nevada. Ecocritics initially also gave some attention to origins in writers such as William Bartram and John James Audubon. These choices constitute the core of early anthologies of "American nature writers." Glotfelty writes. Milkweed Editions and . Arizona. Harvard. and Terry Tempest Williams. Oregon State.

films. But assuming westerners can get their stories published.1 as Ecofeminist Literary Criticism (1998). environmental education. The ISLE Reader. Terra Nova. and of genres. 2) interdisciplinary studies of consumerism. celebrating the journal's tenth anniversary. the disdainful publisher locates himself in New York. of themes. feminism and postcolonial theory. gender. "coolly dismissing" the stories because they are western. including the University of Illinois republication of ISLE 3. because they have nature in them.29 Journals similar to ISLE include Orion. The University of Chicago Press rescued the western book.Four anthologies of ASLE/ISLE critical essays have been published. As Jennifer Price might invert the story. ecocriticism. urban studies. all published or even manuscripted narratives have trees in them because they are made of trees: Nature is always with us at home." As told.and Northern Lights Representing Nature NORMAN MACLEAN told a perhaps apocryphal story in the acknowledgments of A River Runs Through It. and ecocritics often retell it as an implicit argument behind canon formation. "These stories have trees in them. or for both reasons. and 3) theoretical essays on activism and bioregionalism. can "nature writers" represent trees?30 . structures ecocritical interest as. 1) re-evaluations of authors. Maclean's book was rejected by a publisher with the comment. . reading. including population and wilderness. Romanticism.

the finite environment that a reader or writer occupies thanks not just to culturally coded determinants but also to natural determinants that antedate these." presented at the 2001 ASEH conference. "Ecocriticism thus claims as its hermeneutic environment nothing short of the literal horizon itself. I introduced :ecocriticism in the following way The editors of a New Literary History special issue on Ecocriticism find that "Ecocriticism challenges interpretation to own grounding in the bedrock of natural fact. and will outlast them." In this claim. the interests of ecocriticism and environmental history are linked.31 ." Consequently. What does a literary critic mean by saying that environment acts in a work of literature. when academic convention requires that literature be treated as a human—not natural or divine—construction? (In order to avoid several possible clear absurdities. for good reasons.) More recently. in the biospheric and indeed planetary conditions without which human life. as Glen Love or Cheryll Glotfelty argue rather pithily. and as if the nonhuman environment were an actor. the critic must take some care with questions of representation. much less humane letters. In the abstract to "What Ecocritics Do: A Roundtable on Methods Useful to Environmental Historians. could not exist.In the broadest terms. the ecocritic says yes and speaks for literature as if it had trees in it. positions on the relationship between environment and literary representation have been refined and more widely dispersed in academic conferences and publications.

These and other ecocritical projects are being produced both separately and in combination." Buell multiplies the number of projects under the rubric of :ecocriticism to include consideration of the possibilities of certain forms of scientific (1) inquiry (e. (5) study of the rhetoric (e. geography and social ecology) as models of literary reflection. (4) retheorization of mimesis and referentiality.. and environmental advocacy groups.g. governmental institutions. only in the 1990s has it assumed the proportions of a movement. "Although the study of literature in relation to physical environment dates back almost as far as literary criticism itself.. corporate organizations.g. especially the media. and historical analysis of the palatial basis of human experience." Lawrence Buell writes.g. and by no means with one accord.32 . its ideological valences of gender. as a critique of anthropocentric assumptions. (3) study of literature as a site of environmental-ethical reflection—for example. politics) of any and all modes of environmental discourse. (2) textual.In the Modern Language Association's "Forum on Literatures of the Environment. ecology and evolutionary biology) and social scientific inquiry (e. and (6) inquiry into the relation of (environmental) writing to life and pedagogical practice. theoretical. race.. including creative writing but extending across the academic disciplines and (indeed even more important) beyond them into the public sphere. especially as applied to literary representation of physical environment in literary texts.

it often does. professor of comparative literature. ecocriticism can become a hot and contested topic in the world of literary studies." Second. Interdisciplinary Studies AS BECOMES CLEAR from a larger survey of critical methods in articles published in the journal ISLE. summarizes "the comparatist's perspective on ecocriticism. Heise." But . some ecocritics sift texts as Buell ."33 Clearly. This means. of course. manipulate. published version of a forum that began as a session at the 1998 annual convention of the Modern Language Association. not that ecocriticism does not or should not deal with American literature but that it is not in principle more closely linked to American than to any other national or regional literature. But do ecocritics read. "ecocriticism has nothing specifically to do with nature writing. Again. In the expanded. and use texts in a unique manner? The quick answer is that they are like other literary critics "examining textuality. "ecocriticism has nothing specifically to do with American literature. not just summarizing textual content. this does not imply that ecocriticism does not ever deal with nature writing.As in environmental history. clearly.there is an added component Foundational Works. Ursula K. "ecocriticism has nothing specifically to do with nature writing. the American center of ecocriticism is contested." First." Third. But to suggest that it deals with nothing else is comparable to claiming that feminism is only applicable to texts by or about women.

The length of the ecocritical reach depends. but even more on certainty of the sources of authority. At bottom. and . in individual cases. it must cross disciplinary boundaries and use the methods and findings of other disciplines when it asks. ecocriticism needs to import scientific authority in order to combat two positions. and cultural history?" These questions are universal. "How shall scholars deal with continuities and discontinuities found in environmental history. Hence the importance of the "eco": By positing connection and relationship. and some take an intermediate position. ecocriticism asks." There is also a real hope that a concerted multidisciplinary effort can avert environmental disaster. raised—to use two disparate examples—by ecologist Daniel Botkin in Discordant Harmonies and by historian Patricia Nelson Limerick in The Legacy of Conquest. it permits interdisciplinary work to gain authority and analytic power from disciplines outside one's own. 1) that culture can be a refuge from nature. "What is environment?" or "Why think in ecological or evolutionary ways about "?it Like history.34 . social history. on certainty of critical approach.does.2) that nature is merely a cultural construction Power and authority account for part of what ecocritics mean when they invoke "interdisciplinary. How does one become interdisciplinary? Because ecocriticism is interested in ecology and other environmental sciences. some believe all texts can be read as environmental texts.

including literary production. ecology. literary theory—in the study of literature? Some mainline literary critics who have offered widely cited models for ecocritical method that moves beyond the Smith/Marx/Nash landscape include George Levine and Gillian Beer on Darwin and fiction.Open questions inside and outside of ecocriticism include the following: Is "literature and environment" a sub-discipline of literary studies. Lawrence Buell.35 Closer to home. or an extension out of literary studies into environmental sciences. and Terry Gifford on the pastoral.36 A wide variety of approaches to Thoreau demands its own bibliography. Donna Haraway and perhaps Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. Ecocritics read Annette Kolodny and Anne Whiston Spirn on the cultural dimensions of landscape. can literary critics historicize and theorize ecology while keeping their own vision and agenda from becoming discordant? How can they practice relation—putting together history. as feminist historians of science. or a practice largely within the paradigms of the humanities and social sciences? This issue sounds abstract.37 Major . Leo Marx. Raymond Williams. and Jennifer Price on the relationship between nature and culture. but the derogatory term "Standard Social Science Model" (SSSM) bruited about by an increasing number of sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists has been cited increasingly in ecocritical literature. and Simon Schama and Robert Pogue Harrison on cultural studies. perhaps because it places nature first or in academic terms seems to allow a re-biologizing and consequent hegemony of biological interpretations for human behavior.

and two anthologies of critical essays: The Green Studies Reader. William Cronon. somewhat prematurely considering his recent activity. like those of William deBuys. Aldo Leopold. many of the more technical and complicated historical arguments in works like Nature's Metropolis or The Measure of Reality. Perry Miller. Though Alfred Crosby. Holmes Rolston III. edited by . the environmental historians who regularly influence ecocritical discourse tend to be "naturists" like Carolyn Merchant.writers that ecocritics would like to claim as forebears (always a questionable practice since it assumes a strange historical rationale) are included in David Mazel's A Century of Early Ecocriticism. Lewis Mumford.40 Major critics closely associated with ASLE appear in Glotfelty and Fromm. Roderick Nash. Donald Hughes. F. and Dan Flores. and Val Plumwood. in an interdisciplinary way and on the Aristotelian principle that literature falls between history and philosophy.38 One might add. Sherman Paul. whose highlights include John Burroughs. J. Remembering Ahanagran. Donald Worster. Norman Foerster.39 To speak in general terms. Leo Marx. Mabel Osgood Wright. in the special ecocriticism edition of New Literary History. and. Unfortunately the ecocritic's reading list rarely includes urban historians like Martin Melosi. Ecocritics are partial to narratives that include a great deal of first person story-telling. O. Baird Callicott. Max Oelschlaeger. Matthiessen. and Richard White are powerful influences. or The Middle Ground are less known.

Laurence Coupe. complexity.most easily revealed in a "close reading Consider two essays on wilderness. whose Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered speaks for ecocentrism by presenting a rigid ideology and somewhat simplified "life-style" doctrine. and Writing the Environment." or George Sessions and William Devall. whose Arrogance of Humanism rails against "anthropocentrism. Though lawmakers may be interested in legal language. The kinds of questions literary critics ask and the kinds of thesis statements they are likely to write are ". and creates expectations on the part of the reader. as in the case of a favorite like David Ehrenfeld. for example. On the other hand.41 Sometimes the preference for a specific author by an ecocritic reveals shared foundational ideology.42 How Ecocritics Read WHAT CAN HISTORIANS learn from the way ecocritics read? All literary critics are taught to practice close reading—pay attention to language. but not very differently. edited by Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells. David Rothenberg's more nuanced analysis of deep ecology has been most influential in ASLE circles. its genealogy. Trained as literary scholars. Rhetorical strategy is important to the literary critic. managers may be interested in the . ecocritics read and write differently than historians. while the rational structure of argument is likely to catch the attention of the historian. ambiguity. the way it carries intended and unintended meaning.

we notice the difference in strategies of discourse Noting the differences in the dates of the essays does not mean that we might imagine any kind of "progress" in conceptions of wilderness.43 Literary critics have been taught. one that takes up the first paragraph of Marshall's essay and lasts a bit longer in Cronon's.discourses of wilderness A standard literary exercise. We immediately notice that the language of William Cronon's "The Trouble With Wilderness: Getting Back to the Wrong Nature" (1995). though both essays begin with an argument from definition. by which I mean no disrespect. and journalists interested in the most recent controversy. Marshall's mode of discourse is direct. and . and to Webster's New International Dictionary.linguistic—of these essays Our attention is not simply toward diction. biographical.44 We wonder immediately whether the former title alludes to the latter. is and is not the same as the language of Robert Marshall's "The Problems of the Wilderness" (1930). but we do notice the likely differences in the contexts—cultural. Johnson. invented by Ian Watt.that. as he goes on to craft an . students of literature and environment are interested in the .language of policy. Marshall refers to Dr. but more than . as Roderick Nash seems to in Wilderness and the American Mind. to read for similarities and differences. Cronon is more wily. and establishes a kind of earnestness. Ezra Pound style. is to ask what the "style" of the introduction to an imaginative work reveals about its possible directions.

elaborate definition by enumeration in his second paragraph. paradoxes. and possibly the ability to deal with problems one by one. and creating mirrors. worry. Trouble suggests a condition of distress. he also complicates the tone and persona of the narrator. and other self-referential tropes in his first paragraph. but Cronon complicates his term by calling into question appearance and reality. and the narrator admits by the third paragraph that his argument about wilderness may be taken by many readers as "absurd or even perverse. and the defining article of a proper name: The Wilderness Society. as is "the wrong nature" in the subtitle of his essay. consequently they cannot mean the same thing by wilderness. or a situation in which something mechanical or electronic is not functioning or operating as it should. or danger. quite possibly a disease. but they invite solutions. and even mathematical. Marshall's suggests plurality. how can there be something called "the Wrong Nature"?45 Let me go back and explore the shades of meaning between the titles: First of all. Marshall uses the language inherited from the Enlightenment. scientific. where Cronon removes the defining article. Cronon's trouble is singular. We begin to see that the languages of the two essays reveal that Marshall's problems cannot be the same as Cronon's trouble. Also. Indeed the essay is highly self-referential. are likely to be rational. thus removes the discreteness indicated by Marshall. anxiety. Marshall speaks of the wilderness. . In doing so. and the solutions. suggested by connotation." After all. Problems may be difficult.

"48 Cronon appeals to thought. Marshall to a plan of action. of the age of Rachel Carson." as Lawrence Buell has called it. that all too human disease. diction.Anxiety Both essays make allusions to historical information. and both call into question the idea of progress." Marshall's irony goes in a different direction: "The philosophy that progress is proportional to the amount of alteration imposed upon nature never seems to have occurred to the Indians. whereas Marshall's language. and syntax. Hearkening back to Glen Love's distinction. derived from." We can contrast the shape of his opening sentence with Cronon's: "The time has come to rethink wilderness. not attempting to improve it. they never desecrated it. has not fully infected the earth."47 One could go on. which he wants readers to interpret as ironic: "For many Americans wilderness stands as the last remaining place where civilization. are more closely related. Marshall appeals to a crisis in time: "Within the next few years the fate of the wilderness must be decided. and extracted directly from the romantic and fertile primitivist prose of Willa Cather: "The land and all that it bore they treated with consideration.while Cronon's modernist language is more appropriate for an "Age of ". Cronon does so with a statement. It is an island in the polluted sea of urban-industrial modernity. to rethinking. ."46 It is difficult for us not to notice that Cronon's language reveals that his essay has absorbed the "toxic discourse.

but it is certainly constructed with words in essays. William L. literary critics remind us that we are part of a tradition of discourse that itself has a history. The paradox is that the shape of Cronon's prose finally follows the position . is a result of language and rhetoric. They also establish a trend that has generated more sophisticated techniques for teaching field studies . Second. (And perhaps. Style is a part of the cultural work. literary critics believe the mode of articulation matters: It is a part. There may or may not be such a thing as wilderness.of Leo Marx. in the dark abysm of time. while knowing . Ian Marshall's Story Line and Peak Experiences. my own The Pathless Way. and Rebecca Solnit's Savage Dreams and writers that our language reveals our times How Ecocritics Write A DESIRE to integrate personal narrative and critical analysis has led to such publications as John Elder's Reading the Mountains of Home. Third. Ecocritics believe that part of the problems of or trouble with the wilderness. of how texts mean. if not the central part. and Playa Works. Fox's The Void. literary critics remind us that we should write well and with good effect. & The Sign. while borrowing from the language of Carson So why is this kind of reading important or useful to historians? First. and not least.)49 The form of these books insists that field study is integral and essential to understanding literary and aesthetic representations of landscape.

many ecocritical essays lack focus." He writes: "Out of the openings and limitations of my own experience." As characterized by the writings of critics like John Elder. because the argument is by sequence—one exemplary book after another. and to offer both to readers." and uses it for "hiking a poem and reading a wilderness.their object. as anthologies. or as promotions of a genre. Because they are accumulative rather than analytic. wherever they are. even in history.'" This . In Reading The Mountains of Home. "Directive. they still work within the prison house of language. and they fail to reach .courses. They fail to go to grounds.50 This method of writing has been termed "narrative criticism" by Scott Slovic. Elder chooses one Frost poem. the purpose seems to be to seek and find hope and comfort. I offer this contribution to what [Leslie Marmon] Silko calls the 'ancient continuous story composed of innumerable bundles of other stories. It distracts the reader while claiming to show multiple perspectives on an . which is outside the world of words In its enthusiasm to disseminate ideas.51 As reviews of admirable literature.environmental problem Such unmoored comparisons and accumulations of texts emerge from the canonization and anthologizing work of ecocriticism. as one sees often in the writing of Nash or Buell—and does not create an analytical structure. I call this version of ecocriticism the "praise-song school. a certain version of narrative ecocriticism might be better described as praise than criticism.

premise allows Elder to "identify with the losses and recoveries. the migrations and returns. . it includes the first person. of nature with culture. . Narrative scholars look at landscapes not as fields for argument. and seems to be beyond rational scrutiny. that are the living circulation of our family's place on earth.53 He prefers not to see the history of forests as contested terrains the way environmental historians see them.Instead. In the hands of critics like Elder. perhaps. the progressive view of literary history—"This is where we have been going all along"—uses the standard list of popular modern nature writers to create a parable of the development of finer environmental consciousness. seminal writers of the past leading to our contemporary ways of thinking." in the way environmental historians like Marcus Hall do. in homage to Thoreau. Elder does not look for cultural difference in the definitions of such key ideas as "restoration. Elder wishes to draw communal threads together In style."52 In a forthcoming work focusing on the ideas of George Perkins Marsh.54 The praise-song school also sees nature writing as a progressive historical tradition. nearly religious work approaches a timeless harmony. and he does not distinguish European and American ideologies on conservation as split at the root. Such lyrical. but as scenes for reconciliation—of the wilderness ethic with the stewardship ethic. much so-called "narrative scholarship" is not sharply analytical but gracefully meditative.

Sometimes these critics write as if they return to timeless values. only to have the setting sun break through the clouds to cast an otherworldly golden light on the misty farms and woodlands below. are not immune to this third problem in narrative scholarship: "I think of a November evening long ago when I found myself on a Wisconsin hilltop in rain and dense fog. a scene so unexpected and joyous that I lingered past dusk so as not to miss any part of the gift that had come my way. genealogy. 3) Critical prose sometimes shifts to lessons on "the kind of life worth living" that are testimonial. yet they neglect discussion of the principles of inclusion in and/or exclusion of . as when Elder takes Frost to be such a model."56 There is always a danger of such . Certainly These include: 1) Such books are always turning into travelogue. Local writers are praised for their provinciality under a claim for their "deep roots.55 2) Discussions of environmental topics like fast food and organic farming are based more on journalistic accounts than on rigorous scholarship. and literature Narrative scholarship is fraught with dangers." thus further confusing . and are in danger of being clichéd.writers in the canon Early writers are imagined—as Roderick Nash imagined Aldo Leopold —as "prophets." Major voices like Gary Snyder often are treated as gurus or icons rather than as writers.prose seeming like sermonizing . even Cronon.

toward cherishing. narrative scholarship also suggests something positive: that criticism and "nature writing" can merge and sing together if the writing is good enough. is bothered by the idea that the modes of reading texts and reading biological or cultural .58 It is the nature of this vital literary tradition that writers are seduced by the way others read and write landscape and literature together. it must be able to entertain ideas as they are established. the most powerful current may be the one that moves us through the shadow of loss toward love and care. Sandra Steingraber said that when she read Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge. about the texts under inspection and about the critical perspective being used."57 However. like me. Nevertheless. an analytical critic. praised by SueEllen Campbell because "for many of the rest of us. At the same time. at its best. positive and negative. Not simply descriptive. the personal narrative opened up possibilities that allowed her to write Living Downstream. The purpose of subjecting texts and authors to critical inquiry is not simply to search for authority to buttress an argument or perspective. is such a celebration. Reading is not simply a consumer activity: Interesting critics do not simply choose ideas and authors that best fit a pre-arranged interior cognitive décor. requires an open inquiry. Criticism is not the same as sermonizing. many ecocritics continue to value celebration. published by Milkweed Editions and edited by Scott Slovic. At the ASLE conference in 2003. The Credo Series.The praise school is in danger of forgetting that the critical task. it requires making judgments.

the complacency of the praise songs and the denial of real contesting positions will mean slow stagnation. it will adduce . But the ranks of ecocriticism are larger than the membership lists for ASLE. In the meantime. It will be a step toward maturity for the literature and environment community when ecocriticism welcomes its own most trying critics into its ranks. these scholars would not be called ecocritics. Virtually all positions create their own antitheses. and J. or whether it is only capable of praising certain modes of it. and when critique goes unheard.differences between these methods Will the Real Ecocritic Stand Up? A PERUSAL of the book reviews in ISLE reveals no negative review of any book.60 I believe that the future of ecocriticism will rely on a more analytical method in three ways: It will focus on place and can be collapsed into a single activity. it probably is being suppressed. Baird Callicott introduced 'ecocriticism' to the scholarly and popular publics. Otherwise. various environmental activists and thinkers have struggled to articulate a response. the wider public may have a very incomplete idea of what ecocriticism is. Timothy Luke. One reads the following on the World Wide Web: "After scholars such as William Cronon. Cronon's recent contribution to Orion bodes well for change. without testing the ."59 At ASLE. Why? A central question might be whether ecocriticism is capable of creating its own critique of environmental literature.

American Literary Environmentalism(2000).65 . not simply praise it.61 Maybe it is unreasonable to expect ecocritics to begin to treat historical narrative or place as the poststructuralists like Hillis Miller or Stephen Greenblatt do. As a result. and it will include critique of global paradigms—scientific and cultural—as they fit in .62 Because of resistance to post-structural theory. ASLE has not been just about the discourse of American wilderness. but there are still traces of these roots." but hopefully it will reach beyond Cronon's strictly Aristotelian rationalism in the treatment of narrative structure.63 Two examples of recent sophisticated theoretical work are David Mazel. ecocritical work is more likely to look like Cronon's "A Place for Stories. The Green Breast of the New World (1996)." The inclusion of people who would rather not be in a way not unlike Cronon's Changes in the Land. and Louise Westling. as it has too frequently.64 Critiques and Controversies from Within ASLE FOR SOME YEARS. ASLE scholars are spending more effort not simply on the literary language established by the wilderness culture but also on the public language and discourse of environmental issues as they appear in institutional contexts. but whose concerns ought to be the concerns of ASLE precipitated a crisis in 1999. "I'd rather be hiking. as in ASLE's motto.discussions of local place and possible future environmental outcomes Ecocriticism must question more closely the nature of environmental narrative.

created the most powerful reform within ASLE to date Environmental Justice. As Lynton Keith Caldwell has pointed out.66 It will not be fulfilled until people like ecocritics demand better nature writing in Environmental Impact Statements.As I argued during that crisis. but they are becoming more global (looking outward).S. The National Environmental Policy Act with its provisions for Environmental Impact Statements.67 The Caucus for Diversity has . the letter to a governmental agency NEPA's intention to establish interdisciplinary teams that include social sciences and "environmental design arts other than engineering" for the writing of Environmental Impact Statements. the promise of NEPA is still unfulfilled. Caldwell shows. Institutional Language .conflict.important single literary genre. Roderick Nash was wrong. statute. America's important contribution to global environmental protection is not wilderness or national parks. "could bring considerations of equity. more than any other U. and environmental justice into the decision process and could enlarge the basis for mediation when values ." The promise is there but we have yet to give it substance Critique (and regulation) of ecocritical practice—as expressed in the previous two paragraphs—have been local (looking inward). Ecocritics must enter the public arena by encouraging and facilitating writing of the most . because this is where much of the real writing of nature occurs today. ethics. has been widely emulated (in over eighty countries now).

" and asserts "that both teaching and making art are intrinsically political acts. and in intersections of race. Several important and collaboratively created publications have come from continuing discussions. sexuality. gender. edited by Joni Adamson. and in response to this need. Poetics."68 The caucus asked that a majority of "plenary speakers should be representative of nondominant viewpoints. The time has come to expand these efforts. we have formed a Caucus for Diversity. dance."69The book puts ethnically diverse urban . offers "new case studies including cultural analysis of environmental justice arts." including "science. most recently The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics. class. gender. This elaborate book refuses to adhere to the limiting categories of literary analysis. Mei Mei Evans. and performance art." and asked for a conference "addressing diverse perspectives involving the intersections of environment with human differences of race. and sexuality.THE CAUCUS for Diversity was formed in June 1999. music. class." They wanted "conferences more closely connected with the communities in which they are held.participation in the conference planning and presentations The caucus has changed ASLE conferences. as well as considerations of what texts and what genres are appropriate for investigation. and nature. It presented a letter to the executive council of ASLE citing "clear evidence of growing interest in environmental and social justice issues." connecting with "local environmentalists and environmental justice activists." The letter writers also hoped to see "more interdisciplinary diversity as well. & Pedagogy. and Rachel Stein. inviting their ".

alternative views to typical environmentalism are often labeled either as essentialist. that the way we have degraded our environment. these critics speak of "proactive scholarship" that will empower those who are . of Italy. involved in the reformulation of concepts of nature and redefinition of the role of literary study in envisioning a responsible commitment towards the environment. engaged in diverse environmental policies and campaigns. 'feminine' and ."70 A good deal of ecocritical work on so-called "urban nature" has as a result acquired clearer focus. ethnicity and gender. and asks about the directions of the causality of injustice. and by literary scholars. Reno. examinations on "Social Struggles in Nature: Exploring The Connections between Environmental Justice and Environmental Literature:" "The link is oftentimes obscured or understated on both sides by activists. also creates a web of mistrust [and] deep divisions along lines of class. our own bodies and those of other citizens. "I emphasize that what we can call the toxicity chain is not only physical. Erica Valsecchi. Terrell Dixon says.being affected by it Among young scholars one sees special interest in these kinds of cultural studies. As an example.A. In one conversation.71 While not attempting a comprehensive view of globalization. a graduate student at the University of Nevada.and rural inequalities into conversation." Valsecchi is keen to critique environmentalism from the margin: "Stemming from marginalized cultures and traditions in the United States and elsewhere. focused for her M.

canon—Thoreau. for example More than one critic has noted that much of American nature writing is built on the model of the conversion narrative. There are multiple constraints here that limit discussions of literature and environment. shaped by the critics of the pastoral. it is the occupational hazard of those who study literature that they absorb the epistemology and style of their favorite books. students of American Romantics have allowed themselves to believe the principles of representation of their favorite writers—for instance."73 Traditionally. Ecocentrism. Emerson's idea of "correspondence.circumstances. Under such . the critical act becomes an affirmation and a religious act Nowhere is this limitation—of uncritically accepting and using the tradition—more obvious than in the ecocriticism's conceptual landscape. Muir. or worse they are ignored and discarded on racist assumptions. and Stewardship QUESTIONS OF representation have become productively complicated and contested primarily in two ways.ultimately unpractical relationships between human and nature. Even more pronounced and perhaps limiting is ecocriticism's acceptance of the discourse of wildness that it has imported from the writings of its own ."72 Representation. First. The danger is in becoming merely a "fan.74 It would be a huge ." Critics find themselves writing as if they were Emersonian ideologues. fictional and non-fictional. and Leopold.

Wilson. Leo Marx ignited a controversy still running in ecocritical circles by attacking ecocentrism. Also.mistake if ecocritics were simply "converted" by what they read in other "nature writers" and found themselves writing conversion narratives." he argued. of taking established nature writers to be reliable theorists on nature writing. This is why it can be dangerous to follow the practice so frequently found in ecocriticism. all theories of representation must be about human strategies and therefore "anthropocentric. but critics do. twice removed. imaginative writers may not have to ask hard questions about representation and cognition." Ecocritics constitute an interpretive community whose ".'"76 . not "nature At about the summer solstice of 1999.75Because literature is about human focuses primarily on literature. and of importing their language into the critical . they are "critical of anyone—whether an environmentalist or a despoiler—who assumes that the chief reason for protecting the environment is its usefulness to human beings. contention over strategies of representation and the underlying ideologies that create them are likely to provide unending discussions that no doubt will be shaped by the unfolding of cognitive studies.' writes the Harvard sociobiologist and outspoken ecocentrist E. "Ecocentrists are the Puritans of today's environmental movement. 'than defiantly self-indulgent anthropocentrism.vocabulary As a result. 'No intellectual vice is more crippling.O.

several established ecocritics like John Elder or Glen Love have moved away from the wilderness-based or preservationist outlook and toward an outlook often ".In the context of the debates about ecocentrism. especially the environmental justice movement. CONTINUED Crossroads SO.portrayed as "stewardship Elder's most recent manuscript."77 Love attributes his strategic move to the re-biologizing of human nature going on in the life sciences over the past few decades. Love's Practical Ecocriticism leans this way too. Valambrosa. ecocriticism was born out of the perceived disjunction between business as usual in the university and the .org/site/resources/ecocritical-library/intro/blues/ BLUES IN THE GREEN. interests itself in George Perkins Marsh. as he describes his shift away from an "aggressive antianthropocentrism" characterizing his earlier critical writings. which reminded ecocritics of the way traditional users have been marginalized from the natural world and from the benefits of . that needs to make way for an exploration of "what it means to be human.resources http://www. and expresses a clear desire to find a EuroAmerican ethic of stewardship.asle. It was not the debate among ecocritics about ecocriticism that forced this shift. ONCE upon a time. It also was a response to politics.

. . "by definition. But literature also must . the perceived dimensions of environmental crisis have enlarged and spread from local to global. be deprived of an ancestral place in the sun. At that moment.complications One purpose of environmental literature. globalization. Using such . is to express not just the joy of the wide-open spaces. be a victim of toxics. Since then. but also what it feels like to be "nuked" in southern Utah. and ecocritics proposed to meet that crisis. The responsibility of ecocritics includes valuing these experiences when they become literature. Social activists have also responded with terms like environmental justice.. ecological literary criticism must be engaged.bear scrutiny and make sense under the lens of interdisciplinary study I have come to recognize more acutely the degree to which informed political action requires taking advice from others with greater . It wants to know but also wants to do. but have come to see its . Scientists have responded with ideas like island biogeography. terms like biodiversity.terms puts critics inside specific arguments I have said in years past that. and disciplines like conservation biology. as literature. in the same way that feminist criticism was able to do only a few decades ago. simple and straightforward positions and strategies seemed possible. The crisis was and is real.environmental crisis. Ecocriticism needs to inform personal and political actions."78 I have not changed this view. using the skills that literary studies possess. and cosmopolitanism.

demand it do so Crisis always includes the dimension of perception: Do we perceive crossed intentions and possibilities accurately? No movement can operate successfully and healthily unless it takes account of and absorbs critique.Cronon." Environmentalists have been accused of this . . Because it wishes to be informed. and theories that are outside the authority of literary criticism. to meet the crisis. as well as with other members of other communities. Cronon argued strenuously against the ecocentrist position advocated by deep ecology. in responding negatively and often ad hominem to Cronon's argument. Because the modern world and the nature of the crisis . Otherwise. Like environmental history. the result easily can become "doing or advocating the wrong thing for the right reason. That is the reason for. including victims. and wishes to create alliances with other workers in other disciplines. nature writers like Gary Snyder and Terry Tempest Williams. ecocriticism must seek authority from perspectives outside itself. like Leo Marx." not merely because so many ecocritics followed their leaders. including those outside academia. Because deep ecology is widely supported by ecocritics. had been taken by some to be an opponent . interdisciplinary activity.expertise.error An already historical case in point might be the storm over Cronon's "The Trouble. and insistence upon. because it engages and applies insights. methods.

He adds a gratuitous attack on the work of environmental historians Donald Worster and Carolyn Merchant." Yet speaking for the wild requires civility and this is no paradox. ASLE's design space. has no place within for voices of critique. Even when making interesting points. from outside Consequently. I believe that the institutional culture of ASLE must bear part of the responsibility for the tone of the Phillips critique. or landscape. and . unfortunately. the response to the Phillips book is shaping up to be one measure of the maturity of the ecocritical community. it will make you stronger. Phillips defeats himself by acting the wild man. admits that more people than Phillips believe "the community of nature writers and ecocritics has become too chummy and self congratulatory—too selfsatisfied and self righteous." Slovic does not answer the challenge." Does this nourishment apply to the reader or . editor of ISLE. that "Reading The Truth of Ecology is like enduring a dose of chemotherapy—if it doesn't kill you (or your spirit). given his misunderstanding of the experience or the science behind chemotherapy.Something similar seems to be happening with Dana Phillips's recently published The Truth of Ecology. Phillips argues that "ecocriticism ought to be less devoted to pieties: that it ought to offend. for good measure. in a bad-tempered savaging of canonical writers of ecocriticism and contemporary American nature writing. Scott Slovic. except to say "that words —including nature writing and ecocriticism—have the potential to be nourishing and therapeutic." Slovic argues. In a recent review published in Orion.can expect more rhetoric that storms its culture.

the writer? In a review published by ISLE. The fallout from David Brower's resistance to criticism when he was executive director of the Sierra Club should be a reminder of what happens when people fail to . nothing is more depressing than the prospect of environmentalists fighting interminably among themselves.listen A Return to Roots? SURELY THE crisis within ecocriticism was born of its peculiarly American conception. What Lawrence Buell calls praxis. Annette Kolodny. because it speaks within a cultural context. at every reasonable opportunity. and internally. toward environment. Phillips is more frequently accurate and acute than most ecocritics seem to be able to bear. Joseph Meeker."79 I hope I express my point more gently. A healthy ecocriticism should be capable of accepting critique and using it constructively. in all literature. and most of us call activism will continue to resist critique: In an age of environmental crisis. Sean O'Grady condescendingly argues that the book "misbehaves . as it canonized American writers (Thoreau and Muir and their tradition) and American critics (Leo Marx. [Y]et. Perhaps some ecocritics still desire to say "Look for nature. Roderick Nash. and their traditions)... refractory child. But the story within environmental organizations should be a caution to scholars. like a bright. Lawrence Buell. externally. it is not without merit. . He offers a challenge. but the roots of its crisis of ideology are historically deeper.

and end. force." and as the form of his couplets signal.Life. and test of art. of external and human nature. and end. human language. and universal light . and beauty must to all impart At once the source.toward human nature!" But to what extent does accepting such a universal or panoramic priority of nature over culture translate an idea of ?Alexander Pope into modern critical terms .ecocritics. and test.81 . and without producing an academic discourse so arcane it has no readers in the real world. of modes and . and human culture. and are based on an essentialized version of the "external world. confront a complex. in Pope the transactions of representer and represented are shaped by a mystified union of human mind. where Young Turks displace the old dogs. and of the critic's mission To put this another way." This view is not unknown in the writing of some . unchang'd.Unerring Nature! Still divinely bright One clear. Pope's theory expresses a desire for an all-purpose model that gives congruent answers and closure to all questions of representation.80 As "source. global crisis. of the purpose of literature. but it is an unstable grounding for the future The really big question might be how to continue the tradition. critique the Pope position—and other unexamined positions in ecocriticism—without going through a period of internecine battle.sources of literary production.

gender. for preserving wild . we know the rest. or of dying . especially when the information and methods of those other disciplines are rapidly changing. They face risks in giving autonomy to those in other disciplines. But the worst risk is of speaking only to themselves. or at least part of the dialogue about possible solutions. and ethnicity Some English professors decided to follow a decidedly not-majority path in their careers. Ecocritics wish to be part of some solution. including those produced through institutional rhetoric.How can ecocriticism be more analytical without becoming less politically efficacious? As the young critics disdain the loose thinking of some of their elders. As we used to say. shall ecocriticism replace the Thoreauvian father with other fathers. "If you are not part of the solution. or better yet. They wish to avoid certain risks of academic business as usual. class. like frogs from the Sierra Nevada I have spent most of my career examining textual strategies. or read Thoreau more carefully? Can ecocriticism be re-grounded in ecofeminism or postcolonial studies to meet racial and ethnic inequalities? What about globalization? Where do the roads of inquiry meet and where do they diverge. where research is driven by the market and by the need for professional advancement. with mothers. what happens at these crossroads? One thing is certain: traditional theories of representation are under attack because of the narrowness of their interests and especially because younger critics have become suspicious of personal narratives about nature produced from privileged positions of ." well.out.

I consider that much of this work falls almost exactly midway between environmental history and ecocriticism. but it will determine what .lands and biological diversity. for the purposes of making a better world? The role of the ecocritic is not only to celebrate.kind of music we make ." as Johnson called himself in his song.with the role of environmental history Perhaps Robert Johnson didn't have to sell his soul to the devil at the crossroads to learn how to play that mean guitar. The goal is to facilitate clearer thinking about human transactions with environments. This role seems remarkably congruent . What goes into green writing that is indispensable? Part of the goal is to recompose the writing. Ecocritical practice will not be as enjoyable as we had once hoped. made more powerful. but it is also not only to disassemble. Of one thing I am certain: Good writing is more effective and important for these purposes than bad writing.those who specialize in the literary structure of books One begins literary analysis by decomposing texts into their constituent parts. went home and practiced. How can these elements be composed more successfully. but what is good is not such a simple matter. Books are tools for seeing the world: Which tools help perception is a question to be answered partly by . and to facilitate better nature writing in the future. "Poor Bob. and I consider this a productive place for both literary scholars and environmental historians to work.

: .professor of literature and environment at the University of Nevada. The Machine in the Garden.Carolina Press.2 and Myth (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Meetings of the Mind (Princeton: Princeton .4 .University Press. Wilderness and the American Mind (New Haven. Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol . Roderick Nash. Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West (New York: Alfred A. 2000). and the politics of wilderness.1 Henry Nash Smith.3 and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill: University of North .Michael P. Goetzmann. 126 .Yale University Press. Conn. 1967) Annette Kolodny. More recently he has embarked on a study of the groundings of ecocriticism in the historically changing ideas of ecology. (New York: Oxford University Press. The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience . 1966). Knopf. 1975) David Damrosch. evolutionary theory. Reno Notes . and A Garden of Bristlecone Pines: Tales of Change in the Great Basin (1998). Cohen's books are The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (1984). The History of the Sierra Club 1892– 1970 (1988). 1964). 1950). William H. Leo Marx. He is a visiting .ASEH News 12 (Summer 2001): 2.

. 3 . Biology.11 Henry David Thoreau. Note that the third chapter of Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild (San . Practical Ecocriticism. . Allen (Boston: Houghton. sec 2 a. 1995)..8 Environment (Athens: University of Georgia Press. Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the .: PL 88–577.4. and the . 1–12.237 . 1962) The Wilderness Act. Silent Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Norton.7 Glen A.. ed.W.1992) Geoffrey Galt Harpham.6 Study. . "Ethics." in Critical Terms for Literary .Love. Frank Lentriccia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago: University of . Rachel .Ibid. Love. Love. 1996).9 .Chicago Press. c. 1906). Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm (Athens: University of Georgia Press..12 Bradford Torrey and Francis H. 2003). "Revaluing Nature: Toward an Ecological Criticism.. 404 . 400.10 in The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. ed. 1 . "Walking. 88th Congress S. 387–405 . Mifflin." in Excursions and Poems. Practical Ecocriticism: Literature.September 1964 Glen A.Carson.Gerald Graff." .5 Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education (New York: W. ed.

1990) uses the language of Thoreau to place . Writing for an Endangered World: Literature. and Environment in the U.16 Culture. and the ASLE ./website: http://www. ed." in The .13 Snyder.University Press. 1995). 69–90. Knopf. Norton. 1993–2003. The Environmental Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press.asle. The Lay of the Land .Francisco: North Point Press. 2003)." Turtle Island (New York: New .See Kolodny. 2003) I discuss this issue in "Resistance to .Directions. The Practice of the Wild.17 ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism.itself within a tradition . 1995). and Beyond (Cambridge: Harvard .umn."Environmental .15 History 1 (1996): 33–42.W. Branch and Scott Slovic (Athens: University of Georgia Press. William Cronon. Simon Schama.University Press. Culture. William Cronon (New York: W. Lawrence Buell. Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. or. The term "real work" is used by Gary Snyder in the poem "I Went Into The Maverick Bar. Branch and Scott Slovic. "Introduction. 2001). xiii–xxiii. 1995). Landscape and Memory (New York: Alfred A. Dana Phillips.14 with Wilderness. ed. The Truth of Ecology: Nature. 1–29 See Michael P. . 1974). Michael P." in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature. "The Trouble .S. and Literature in America (New York: Oxford . 9 Lawrence Buell.

xix. West of Eden: A History of Art and Literature of Yosemite (Berkeley. Patrick Murphy. Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells. 2000).Gioia Woods. Reading Under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.Handbook: http://www. For a nonliterary genre. Michael P. and Karla Armbruster and Kathleen Wallace. 1998). Real Matter (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press." See David Robertson. Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment (Moscow: University of Idaho Press.Sound.18 . see David Rothenberg.19 Lake City: University of Utah Press: 1992). The Ecocriticism Reader. Pilgrims to the . The Environmental Imagination. eds. David Robertson.20 studies. Branch et al. Calif. 2002) Glotfelty and Fromm.html Scott Slovic. Beyond .umn. John Tallmadge and Henry Harrington. 1998).. eds. 1984). eds. ..21 texts and anthologies of ecocriticism include Buell. John P. O'Grady. Nature (Athens: University of Georgia Press. 1997). Sudden Music: 2000). Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing (Salt . Graduate . Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and Literature (London: Zed Books. eds.: Wilderness Press.Wild (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press: 1993) These regional studies sometimes are called "bioregional . Farther Afield in the Study of NatureOriented Literature (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.asle. Some basic .

1991)." in Glotfelty and Fromm.. Encompassing Nature: A Sourcebook (Washington.2000) .23 Ecology (New York: Scribners. Torrence. Anna Bramwell. 6–8 . Golley.University of Virginia Press. Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. 1989)..Buell. ed. Tom Lyon. A Critique for Ecology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in . . Ecocriticism Reader. David R. 1998). The Comedy of Survival: Studies in Literary .. 1994).Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism (Charlottesville: . 1990). The Norton Book of Nature Writing (New York: W. Robert M.25 Some anthologies of and about nature writing include John Elder . D.26 and Robert Finch.C. Norton.22 . The Philosophy of Ecology: From Science to Synthesis (Athens: University of Georgia Press. This Incomperable Lande (Boston: Houghton Mifflin. . 105–23 Joseph W. Robert H. 153–65 Donald Worster. Keller and Frank B. and John Elder.W.. See Phillips. Daniel Botkin. Meeker. 2001) William Rueckert. (New York: Cambridge University Press. eds. The Truth of Ecology. 1990). Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the Twenty-first Century (New York: Oxford University Press. Peters.Ecocriticism.: Counterpoint. 1989). .as ground for ecocriticism. ed. Ecology in the Twentieth Century: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press.24 2nd ed. For a superficial critique of ecology . 1972). ed. The Environmental Imagination.

O'Grady. Sisters of the Earth: Women's Prose and Poetry about Nature (New York: Vintage. See also Lorraine Anderson. ed.29 Norman Maclean. 2001). ed." in New Feminist Criticism: Essays on Women. 1985).(Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Scott Slovic and John P. ed.American Nature Writers. 1991). ed.(Winter 1981): 179–206 Susan Fenimore Cooper. A River Runs Through It. 1976). Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature . Susan Fenimore Cooper. ed. Michael P.. Branch. "Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness.and Culture (1999) Elaine Showalter. Literature. ed. 1996). Elaine Showalter (New York: Pantheon. (New York: Charles M.31 . 1998). See also Elaine Showalter. Essays on Landscape and Culture. Rural Hours. ix–xiv .27 Revolution. Scribner's Sons. "Introduction: The Feminist Critical . Rochelle Johnson and . 2 vols. and Theory..Branch and Slovic. Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing before Walden . 3–17. forthcoming 2004) .(Athens: University of Georgia Press.28 Daniel Patterson (Athens: University of Georgia Press. Rochelle Johnson and Daniel Patterson (Athens: University of Georgia Press. The ISLE Reader .30 ." Critical Inquiry 8 .New Literary History 30 (Summer 1999): 505 . and Other Stories .

Ursula K. 1988).: Northwestern University Press. Norton.Environment." PMLA 114 (October 1999): 1096–7 . Heise. "Letter. and John Toobey.33 Patricia Nelson Limerick. 1983). The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken .Lawrence Buell." PMLA 114 (October 1999). Mimesis and the Human Animal.36 Victorian Fiction (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. . 31–48. The Country and the City (London: Oxford University Press. Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin.35 Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture (New York: Oxford 1992). 900–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.kind of question Jerome H. 1973). 2002). Darwin and the Novelists: Patterns of Science in . 1987).W. Raymond Williams." PMLA 114 (October 1999) 1090–1. Steven Pinker. 1986) and many other historical and scientific studies to show the ubiquity of this . Robert Storey. Leda Cosmodes.32 and other letters are collected under the title "Forum on Literatures of the . Barkow. Terry . Ill. Joseph Carroll. "Letter. Ecological Imperialism: The Ecological Expansion of Europe.1996) George Levine. 1089–1104 .34 Past of the American West (New York: W. 1995). Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Viking. Gillian Beer. One also could include Alfred Crosby. The . This . Evolution and Literary Theory (Columbia: University of Missouri. On the Biogenic Foundations of Literary Representation (Evanston. George Eliot and Nineteenth Century Fiction (London: Routledge.

1998). ed. ed. Laura Dassow Walls. The Language of Landscape (New Haven: Yale University Press. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century: Readings on the Philosophy and Practice of the New Environmentalism (Boston: Shambhala Press.C. 1985). Writing Nature: Henry Thoreau's Journal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1991). Thoreau. The Environmental Imagination. Perry Miller (Boston: Houghton Mifflin.1999) Recent reviews by Leo Marx included the following texts and . and Jennifer Price. Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion of Seeds and Other Late Natural History Writings (Washington. Anne Whiston Spirn. ed. Pastoral (London: Routledge. 1993).: Island Press. 1972– 1983). Seeing New Worlds: Henry David . D. Buell. Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books. Consciousness in Concord: The Text of Thoreau's Hitherto "Lost Journal" (1840–1841) Together with Notes and a Commentary. ed.37 critical works on Thoreau: Elizabeth Hall Witherell. Bradley P. 1999). Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species (New York: Ballantine Books. Donna Haraway. Forests: the Shadow of Civilization (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Daniel Peck (New York: Penguin. 1995)..Gifford. Cyborgs. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. . and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge. The Writings of Henry D. George Sessions. Dean. 1958). Simians. Robert Pogue Harrison.. 1999).. 1992). 1993). Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. with an introduction and notes by H. 5 vols. Sharon Cameron. A Year in Thoreau's Journal: 1851.

1999). ed. Holmes Rolston III. A Century of Early Ecocriticism (Athens: . 1997). The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology (New Haven: Yale University Press. In Defense of the Land Ethic (Albany: SUNY . Norton.1993) William Cronon.Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science. 1250–1600 (New York: Cambridge University Press.(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. River of Traps: A Village Life . (Madison: University of .40 (New York: W. 1989). 1988). Roderick Frazier Nash. Baird Callicott. Environmental Ethics: Duties to and Values in the Natural World (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (London: Routledge. For environmental history read by ecocritics. 1998).University of Georgia Press. 393–400. 1990) . 1991). Max Oelschlaeger. The Middle Ground (New York: Cambridge University Press. . 1991). Beyond the Land Ethic (Albany: SUNY Press. The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West . Remembering Ahanagran: Storytelling in a Family's Past (New York: Hill and Wang. 2001) J. see Glotfelty and Fromm.W.39 Press.38 . William deBuys and Alex Harris. The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society. 1989). Val Plumwood. Ecocriticism Reader. Alfred Crosby. 1995) David Mazel..Wisconsin Press. 1991).

.Ecology (Cambridge: MIT Press. 1993).Cronon. George Session. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered (Salt Lake City. ed. Metahistory: the Historical Imagination in Nineteenth Century Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1973) and The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. 2000) Ian Watt. David Rothenberg. Peter Reed and David Rothenberg. eds. But with such investigations as Hayden White. eds. ed. Bill Devall and George Sessions..fiction Cronon.41 .43 Press." 69 . Beneath the Surface. Eric Katz. Robert Marshall. the mode of analysis has been applied to non. The Arrogance of Humanism (New York: Oxford . 1985). This exercise of reading was invented for the exploration of fiction." 69–90.. Kerridge and Sammells. 1995). 1957). The Rise of the Novel (Berkeley: University of California .45 . and David Rothenberg. 2000). 1987). Wisdom in the Open Air: The Norwegian Roots of Deep Ecology (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Deep Ecology for the 21st Century.Laurence Coupe. Utah: Peregrine Smith Books. Wild Ideas (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Writing the Environment David Ehrenfeld." The Scientific Monthly 30 (1930) 141–48 . "Trouble with Wilderness. Andrew Light. "The Trouble with Wilderness."The Problem of the Wilderness...London.42 University Press. Critical Essays in the Philosophy of Deep . The Green Studies Reader (Routledge: . 1978). ed.44 .

Cronon.with Wilderness. 1994) and Wanderlust: a History of Walking (New York: Viking. Gregory Smith and Dilafruz Williams. N. The Grid. 2003).48 .Y.46 . Reading the Mountains of Home (Cambridge: Harvard . Ecological Literacy: . Teaching in the Field: Working with Students in the Outdoor Classroom (Salt Lake City: University of Utah ." 142 .. The Void. 1999). eds. Hal Crimmell. "The Problem of the Wilderness.Marshall. 2000). William L. "The Problem of the Wilderness. Rebecca Solnit. Story Line: Exploring the Literature of the Appalachian Trail (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.: SUNY Press.Wisconsin.Y." 69 John Elder.: SUNY Press.Cather quoted in Marshall. ed. Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Hidden Wars of the American West (San Francisco: Sierra Club. The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (Madison: University of . 1984) Field studies are explored in David Orr.. 1998). 2002). "Trouble . N. 1997).47 Marshall.49 University Press. 1992). "The Problem of the Wilderness.."141 . Fox.50 Education and the Transition to a Postmodern World (Albany. Ecological Education in Action (Albany." 141. Meeting the Tree of Life: A Teacher's Path (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Ian Marshall. Michael Cohen. John Tallmadge. & The Sign: Traversing the Great Basin (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. 1998) and Peak Experiences (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. 2000) and Playa Works: The Myth of the Empty (Reno: University of Nevada Press.

University of Nevada. Story Line.52 John Elder. Communication.54 "transcendent nature" might "wash away the boundaries that time creates" in imagining "a universal language shared by author and subject.51 Contact." (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Western Literature Association. "'Reading the Trail. 26." ." 86.Historical Field.56 . I will spare the reader . Reading the Mountains of Home.53 . "All criticism is narrative . that a vision of ." "American Environmental History: The Development of a New . Utah." Pacific Historical Review.Press. 237 . 5–8 October 1994). Salt Lake City. When asked.D. discussed in Marshall..the University of Nevada will say. Corey Lewis. diss. one literary-critic colleague at ". forthcoming) Richard White warned against this problem.Harvard University Press. 2003). "The Natures of Nature Writing.55 Travels with Cranes: Richard White. 54 (1985): 297–304 See the review of Peter Matthiessen's The Birds of Heaven: . 2003) Scott Slovic.' Exploring the Literature of . Reno. . Vallombrosa: Pilgrimage to Stewardship (Cambridge: .Raritan 22 (Fall 2002): 145–61 Cronon. "The Trouble with Wilderness. 7–8.Elder. Values.the Pacific Crest" (Ph. "Ecocriticism: own indulgences into this kind of narrative voice .

dissentmagazine. . An American Child Supreme: The Education of a Liberation Ecologist (2001). Sandra Steingraber./Dissent:http://www. see SueEllen Campbell. Virginia J.York: Addison Wesley. Rick Bass. Brown Dog of the Yaak: Essays on Art and Activism (1999). "Leftist Criticism of 'Nature': Environmental . 1991). Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment (New . "The Riddle of the Apostle Islands. The Dream of the Marsh Wren: Writing as Reciprocal Creation (1999). 1997) Paul William Cronon. The Frog Run: Words and Wilderness in the Vermont Woods (2001).60 (May/June 2003): 36–42." Western American Literature 37 (Fall. ed. Seeing Nature Through . Each contains a substantial profile of the author by Scott Slovic. Pattiann Rogers.) include John Nichols.57 (Minneapolis.58 and Place (New York: Pantheon. Ann Haymond Zwinger.59 Protection in a Postmodern Age. "The Credo Series: Language/Nature/Cherishing. Shaped By Wind and Water: Reflections of a Naturalist (2000). John Elder.2002): 361–9 Terry Tempest Williams.A few of the volumes in the Credo Series by Milkweed Editions . Scharff. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family ." . The Country of Language (1999)." Orion 22 . Scott Russell Sanders. and William Kittredge. Minn. Taking Care: Thoughts on Storytelling and Belief (1999). In addition.

. Louise Westling." Journal of American History 78 (March 1992): 1347–76 David Mazel. Topographies (Palo Alto. 1995)." Environmental Ethics 11 (1989): 117–34. Stephen Greenblatt and Giles Gun.excellent collection of ecocriticism by historians Jim Cheney.61 Bioregional Narrative. Dan Flores. Renaissance Refashionings (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. and . "Postmodern Environmental Ethics: Ethics as .Review (Winter 1994): 1–18 J.Gender (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. "Strange Fruit") . Calif. "Place: An Argument for Bioregional History. 2003) comprises an . 1996) In a session on "Lynching Trees" (as in the song. Redrawing the Boundaries: A Transformation of English and American Literary Studies (New York: Modern Language Association. History.: Stanford University . Gender and American Fiction (Athens: ."Environmental History .65 at ASLE in Boston. Stephen Jay Greenblatt. "A Place for Stories: Nature. 2000).University of Georgia Press. The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape.63 . Hillis Miller.Narrative. American Literary Environmentalism (Athens: . one scholar commented that in the African-American community the pine tree logo used for Timberland Products was coded as "!meaning: "Stay Away .1992) William Cronon. 1980).62 Press.64 University of Georgia Press.

66 Agenda for the Future (Bloomington: Indiana University Press.71 Cities (Tucson: University of Arizona.. Devon Pena. 2002) . 1997) Environmental Justice: A Roundtable Discussion with Simon " .. Teague.Justice Reader. City Wilds .70 Ortiz. American Indian Literature. ed.asle. See also Joni Adamson.(Athens: University of Georgia Press.56 See Simon C. 7. and Ecocriticism (" AUMLA: . Mei Mei Evans. Teresa Leal. University of Arizona Press.69 The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics.67 The Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature ." in The Environmental . eds. The Nature of . and Rachel Stein. Dixon. 23–24 See Michael Bennett and David http://www. and Rachel Stein. 2002). "A Report Card on Ecocriticism. eds. Shifting the Ground: American Women Writers' Revisions of Nature. ed. Gender and Race .(Charlottesville: University of Virginia. Evans. and Terrell Dixon. The National Environmental Policy Act: An .68 . and Stein. 1998). Poetics & Pedagogy (Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Terrell F. 1999).Lynton Keith Caldwell. .html Joni Adamson. Estok. 2001).. Environmental Justice.Association 96 (November 2001): 220–38 The letter can be found . 55– . Adamson.

Daniel Dennett. Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1993). Dumping in Dixie: Race. Chicano Culture. Devon Pena. and Eleanor . 1991). Politics: Subversive Kin (Tucson: University of Arizona Press.73 .Valsecchi's reading list and proposed questions for her M. Varella. Robert D. 1992). The Environmental Justice Reader. 185–239 . 1998). The Truth of Ecology. 2002) . Cronon. 1990).Phillips. Ecology. Gloria Anzaldua. included Adamson.74 Within evolutionary studies. ed. and Val Plumwood. 138 . 1998). Class and Environmental Quality (San Francisco: Westview Press.72 examination at the University of Nevada. Jimmie M.75 Explained (Boston: Little Brown. Palmer. Ecospeak: Rhetoric and Environmental Politics in America (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. Borderland—La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute. Evan Thompson.A. Woman Hollering Creek And Other Stories (New York: Random House. Writing The Environment. Kerridge and Sammels.Culture: the Ecological Crisis of Reason (London: Routledge. . Stanley Crawford. Bullard. Land.Ibid. 1991) and Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (New York: Touchstone. Jose Rivera. Acequia Culture: Water. Killingsworth and Jaqueline S. Uncommon Ground. Consciousness . Sandra Cisneros. Evans. Community in the Southwest (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Francisco J. 1987).. 1995) have gained some influence. Environmental . and Stein. Reno.

"The Struggle Over Thoreau. 1991) is pregnant with possibility.html) . Being There (Cambridge: MIT Press. Leo Marx.Michael P. rather than polarizing ecocentric vs.various ecological models of representation Leo Marx. as in Roderick Nash.Love. in print and in a session at the 2003 ASLE conference." New York Review of . Practical Ecocriticism. Steven Marx (no relation to Leo) has pointed out that. But the discussion has made no progress. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience (Cambridge: MIT Press. or nature vs. and Schama mocks the distinction in somewhat the same way that Cronon does in "The Trouble .Rosh. 1997) tests the construction of . 6 . "Letter. well-known basic philosophical distinctions between the anthropocentric and biocentric positions that found environmental "An Exchange on Thoreau" with letters by Lawrence Buell. Cohen." PMLA 114 (October 1999): 1092–3 .calpoly. Andy Clark." (http://cla. Simon Schama's Landscape and Memory claims that these categories overlap. The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 9–10." NYRB 46 (15 July 15 1999).76 Books 46 (24 June 1999).With Wilderness. homocentric. "The Full Thoreau.78 . culture.77 . The protracted discussion between Buell and Marx has reproduced. 1989). and Leo Marx followed: NYRB 46 (2 December 1999).

York: W. 1087–1147 http://www. review of The .The Truth of Ecology.. The Truth of Ecology. review of . "An Essay on Criticism.History" Journal of American History 76 (March 1990).81 . "A Roundtable: Environmental .80 al.79 Truth of Ecology. 442 See Donald Worster et al." in Vincent .Phillips. O'Grady. Scott Slovic. ISLE 10 (Summer 2003): 278–9. eds. 2001)..asle. 241.W. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (1711. New . Norton & Co. Leitch. John P. Orion 22 (September/October 2003): 75–6 Alexander Pope.. et . reprint.


By Simon C. Estok (Sejong University)
Published in AUMLA: The Journal of the Australasian
Universities Language and Literature Association 96 (Nov. 2001): 220-38.
It all began with a bit of a panic to describe itself, and even now, the
question about what constitutes ecocriticism remains a priority.[1]
Although ecocriticism began in the 1990s,[2] its roots stretch far down
into the soil of history. From ancient times to the present, various people
at various times and for various reasons have voiced concerns about the
natural world. Ecocriticism's unease about its nature derives from
precisely this history. How does ecocriticism distinguish itself from other
varieties of environmentally oriented reading? What are its goals,
methodologies, and objects of study? Where did it come from? Where is it
now? And where is it going? Certainly, in the primary literature on the
subject,[3] as I will show, ecocriticism has distinguished itself, debates
notwithstanding, first by the ethical stand it takes, its commitment to the
natural world as an important thing rather than simply as an object of
thematic study, and, secondly, by its commitment to making connections.
Ecocriticism may be many other things besides, but it is always at least
these two. It is also very young, and the rapid growth of this theoretical
youngster needs to be evaluated: as Kathleen R. Wallace and Karla

Armbruster so aptly put it, "the time has come for ecocritics to review the
field critically and ask what directions it might best take in the future."[4]
.It is report card time

Ecocritical Ethics
In The Ecocriticism Reader, Cheryll Glotfelty defines ecocriticism as
"the study of the relationship between literature and the physical
environment" (xviii)[5] and compares it with other activist methodologies
such as Marxist and feminist criticisms. The Ecocriticism Reader was the
first of its kind--an anthology of ecocritical essays devoted
to organizing an area of study whose efforts had, until the early 1990s,
not been "recognized as belonging to a distinct critical school or
movement" (xvi-xvii). Rather, as Glotfelty points out in the introduction,
many of the twenty-five essays collected in the reader had appeared
under headings as varied "as American Studies, regionalism, pastoralism,
the frontier, human ecology, science and literature, nature in literature,
landscape in literature" (xvii), and so on. Implied throughout the
introduction, and whispering behind almost every essay in the collection,
is the idea that "literary studies in an age of environmental crisis" (xv)
conceivably may do some good, may in some way ameliorate the crisis.
William Rueckert's essay, for example, compares biological and literary
activities, suggesting that poems, like plants, store energy from their
respective communities and that this energy can be used in the world
outside of where it is stored. The problem, in Rueckert's opinion, is in

figuring out how to turn the stored energy of literature into effective
political action in the real world. Sueellen Campbell's piece in the
collection is also concerned with effective and direct action, and her
identification of important similarities and differences between
poststructuralism and deep ecology argues that "both [literary] theorists
and ecologists ... are at core revolutionary" (127).[6]
In the same year that Glotfelty's collection came out, Lawrence Buell
published The Environmental Imagination, where he defines "'ecocriticism'
as [a] study of the relationship between literature and the environment
conducted in a spirit of commitment to environmentalist praxis" (430
n.20). Buell acknowledges that there is some uncertainty about what the
term exactly covers but argues that
if one thinks of it ... as a multiform inquiry extending to a variety of
environmentally focused perspectives more expressive of concern to
explore environmental issues searchingly than of fixed dogmas about
political solutions, then the neologism becomes a useful omnibus term for
subsuming a large and growing scholarly field. (430 n.20)
Buell's definition is valid, as far as it goes, and it continues both in
the increasingly interdisciplinary tradition of inclusiveness and making
.connections and in maintaining an ethical stand for effecting change
The 1998 collection entitled Reading the Earth goes a bit further and
is more specific in the matter of ethical commitment. As Michael P. Branch
,et al explain

Ecocriticism needs to inform personal and political actions. Ecocriticism is not just a means of analyzing nature in literature. . for instance.. it implies a move toward a more biocentric world-view. an extension of ethics.. some of the initial concerns that marked its inaugural moments have already been answered. Glotfelty's concern in 1996 with the traditional failure of the literary profession to address "green" issues. Just as feminist and African American literary criticism call for a change in culture--that is. Michael Cohen asserts that "by definition. a broadening of humans' conception of global community to include nonhuman life forms and the physical environment. they attempt to move the culture toward a broader worldview by exposing an earlier narrowness of view--so too does ecological literary criticism advocate for cultural change by examining how the narrowness of our culture's assumptions about the natural world has limited our ability to envision an ecologically sustainable human society. Given the veritable explosion of interest in the field. now seems something of a non-issue. ecological literary criticism must be engaged. It wants to know but also wants to do."[7] Like any recently born thing. . In the short time since it first appeared as a movement.Implicit (and often explicit) in much of this new criticism is a call for cultural change. in the same way that feminist criticism was able to do only a few decades ago. ecocriticism is experiencing tremendous growth and development in these early years of its existence. (xiii) In the following year.

If the matter of applying social history to literature is. in fact. [but] the English profession has failed to respond in any significant way to the issue of the environment. and gender are words which we see and hear everywhere at our professional meetings and in our current publications . and. a constant sore spot for serious New Historicism. [10] Of course. things are changing: the English profession is responding. paraphrasing Glotfelty's point.[9] Indeed. and it is almost tedious to make such an insipid comment.. the changes in the way that ecocriticism is received are so dramatic that it emboldens Patrick Murphy to write in 1999 that "every department in which MLA members hold tenure ought to include an ecocritic among its ranks" (1099).. there are . the age-old business of the Ivory Tower. some things haven't changed over the years. (226)[8] That was then. as Love knows. class. at best. then doing it the other way around is no less difficult: petitioning real world issues with literary theory. seems even more demanding. Love has recently noted that "the study of literature and the environment and the practice of ecocriticism has begun to assume an active place in the profession" (65).Glen Love. One of these is the relationship between literature and world. argued in his contribution to The Ecocriticism Reader that race. problematic. Though ecocritics with the very best intentions want to change things.

"The claims of realism. acknowledge as a theoretical problem: the relationship between text on the one hand and world on the other. can authorize and validate the approach). He calls this bridge an "aesthetics of dual accountability" (98). neuter ecocriticism..perfectly valid Buell's approach. is through a revival of the claims of realism. which will satisfy "the mind and the ethological facts" (93). is to avoid the complexities of theory entirely. in fact.might cause such changes "Without Spinning Off": Balancing Theory And Practice Although. The way to achieve it. seems . he maintains. we hear Tallmadge and Harrington promising to give adequate theory but "without spinning off into obscurantism or idiosyncrasy" (xv). there are some misgivings about and distrust of theory among ecocritics. it seems.important questions waiting for our answers about how literary theory . a healthy scepticism toward theory of the sort that spins off madly or that mesmerizes. Hence. so as to enable one to reimagine textual representations as having a dual . Given that ecocriticism is something that is supposed to change things.. however. "merit reviving . as John Tallmadge and Henry Harrington correctly point out in Reading Under the Sign of Nature. theory that would. theory has taken the front seat in early ecocritical writing (largely because theory. and to bridge the gap between what he does." he argues. in a word. it seems. and Lawrence Buell pledging to avoid what he terms "mesmerization by literary theory" (111).

merits of realism One of the more promising examples of such an attempt to deal directly with the problems of representation comes from Gretchen Legler's essay in the 1998 anthology. as Terry Eagleton remarks in Against the Grain. One has to wonder. There are a number of ugly threads hanging behind Walden that Buell simply does not offer to view. if there is no more productive way of dealing with poststructuralist challenges to the transparency of language than simply ignoring them and falling back on problematic suppositions about the . "to expose in all its unglamorously dishevelled tangle the threads constituting the well heeled image it presents to the world.[12] Legler deconstructs Walden briefly but effectively by noting how Thoreau :represents the natural environment Nature in Thoreau's work is constructed as a place that nurtures [the] white masculine aesthetic and as a place that is not suitable for the nurturance of other bodies--the bodies of Native Americans. immigrants and white women. (75) . Writing the Environment." is to deconstruct a text. To reverse the tapestry.accountability to matter and to discursive mentation" (92). if we are to make the kinds of interconnections among structures of oppression that ecocriticism seeks to make.[11] Legler raises a number of deconstructionist questions about the markings of language in Walden that strike me as being fairly important--at least. though.

if not hostile. class. such as feminist. an unfortunate term because it suggests a new " kind of critical theory. and a mode of critique" (ix). Tallmadge and Harrington are certainly accurate in observing a defensiveness toward theory that characterizes early ecocritical monographs. Stephanie Sarver goes even further in expressing her worries about . continues.. to be "less a method than an attitude. as Tallmadge and Harrington argue. particularly in its theoretical and methodological base" ("Science" 65). but by a focus: the environment. Marxist. psychoanalytic and historicist. voices a concern about the theoretical standing of ecocriticism. reader" (ix) largely remains with ecocritical monographs.[13] Nonetheless. gender.ecocriticism's theoretical viability Sarver contends that ecocriticism is not a theory at all but is more :than anything a focus Ecocriticism" is . partly because ecocriticism has still not found its own voice and continues to speak through the mouths of other theories. He seems to feel some unease about "what that place [of ecocriticism in the profession] is to be.Legler helps to connect issues such as race. post-structuralist.[15] ..[14] The presumption of "a skeptical. Glen Love. The emerging body of work that might be labeled ecocritical is united not by a theory. an angle of vision. This ecocritical work draws on a variety of theories. too. and sexuality in theoretical terms with questions about the environment.

with which it otherwise has points in common. is exactly what goes on in the articulation of a new critical practice. poststructuralism. Richard Kerridge perceptively suggests that one reason is that unlike feminism. Still. Sarver has a point.In a sense. psychoanalysis. indeed. All of these draw heavily on other theories that preceded them. the argument Sarver is making is valid in so far as it calls ecocriticism to task for not being theorized enough and for being . homophobia.[16] Perhaps one of the reasons for this problematic is that the terms of engagement are less defined with environmental issues than they are with social ones. Marxism.. racism. however. All theories are a synthesis. then we need first to recognize at least two reasons why such well-established terms as misogyny. Such borrowing. and Sarver fails to recognize this fact. and historicism. in each case the ..heavily thematic We need to understand why ecocriticism has had problems in getting its theoretical footing. but it is a point that may be applied to any kind of theory. If we are going to talk about terms of engagement. the very theories she mentions as being theories per se: feminism. environmentalism has difficulty in being a politics of personal liberation or social mobility . environmentalism has a political weakness in comparison with feminism: it is much harder for environmentalists to make the connection between global threats and individual lives. and anti-Semitism provide enabling frames of discussion in literary criticism: first.

" of non-procreative sexualities." of Jewishness and Jews.estranged and disaffected subjects are concrete things that we can name with increasing confidence. the terms themselves (by the very fact that they offer a name) authorize discussion and description of a recognized topic--"misogyny" is hatred of women.22. and "antiSemitism. but some kind of terminology and theorization is necessary. "homophobia. ecocriticism risks becoming just an . whether or not we agree with his kind of theory. Admittedly. As Murphy complains.22)." of racial difference. but when the object is the natural world. lesbians. We have a litany of terms to describe socially oppressive systems of thinking and the social objects of fear and hatred they produce. otherwise. "racism. there is no single term with which we can begin an organized and informed discussion. things that walk among (often as a threat to) fully franchised subjects.empty buzzword It is probably accurate to claim that no one has done more in helping ecocriticism onto solid theoretical ground than Patrick D. there is too much jargon polluting the world of theory. Murphy. A term such as "ecophobia"[18] would allow us to label fear and loathing toward the environment in much the same way that the term "homophobia" marks fear and loathing toward gays. and second. But what should we call a fear and contempt for the environment? We have terms to describe what we perceive as hostile geographies--Horace's terras domibus negata (1. the . and bisexuals.[17] for instance--but we do not have any terms describing the mechanism for the fear that produces such environments.

[20] Sarver .project here In his most recent book. Yet if Murphy is to be critiqued. Too often. realist attitude expressed in" the work of ecocritics." which. Murphy succeeds in taking ecocriticism out of the hands of the theoretically unsophisticated. for instance.would argue that this is simply not good enough. We might debate the usefulness of Bakhtinian dialogics. naive. the criticism is as valid today as when it was first made in 1995.problem with ecocriticism is that too much of it "remains theoretically unsophisticated. they are drawing on existing theories to illuminate our understanding of how human interactions with nature are . there remains an anti-theoretical. [19] Arguably. If nothing else. Murphy offers a Bakhtinian "dialogical orientation." arguing that the former offers "a viable theory of agency" (Farther Afield 94) and that the latter does not.reflected in literature A dialogic answer might be that such borrowing is exactly what goes on in the articulation of a new critical practice. "reinforces the ecofeminist recognition of interdependence and the natural need for diversity" (22). it is for the theory he chooses rather than for the choosing of theory. Murphy also stresses the . In place of theoretically unsophisticated stances. he maintains. rather. In her own words Literary scholars who are environmentalists seem not to be creating a new critical theory. Murphy discusses the differences between ecofeminist literary criticism and what he calls "postmodernist negative critique. but that is not part of my .

it seems senseless to conduct ecocritical investigations outside of feminist frameworks. as Karen Warren (among many others [22]) cogently notes." whether plural or singular.[23] as does her suggestion for a plurality of ecofeminisms. As far as it goes. people of color. one is tempted to agree that the very term "ecofeminism. but it does not add very much to the existing theory or take us much beyond what we already know. Ynestra King [21] Since there are. terminological questions arise. and the underclass on one hand and how one treats the nonhuman natural environment on the other" ("Introduction" xi).explicitly and unreservedly feminist. might "only be transiently useful within our history" (Sturgeon 168). Nonetheless.idea that the diversity and heterarchy that characterize healthy ecosystems also characterize ecofeminist practice and thinking. it is . we might venture some broad generalizations about the two spheres of . though I would hesitate to suggest that we are anywhere near . Nevertheless. Noël Sturgeon's question about "what's in a name" remains germane. however. especially when ecocriticism prides itself on making connections. the theory is fine.having exhausted its usefulness Granting that there are ecofeminisms and ecocriticisms. and that is a positive start (Feminist) Ecocriticisms he hatred of women and the hatred of nature are intimately [T] connected and mutually reinforcing. "important connections between how one treats women. Again.

perhaps. emphasis added). It is not an argument that I particularly want to develop. perhaps even as a sort of gender war writ small in the rarefied airs of competing theoretical discourses. Nevertheless.differences between the two approaches When Ynestra King argues that "in ecofeminism.[24] Both often do very much the same work. she is surely mistaken. but we may be certain that there are very real consequences that we need to be aware of when we do consider the differences. we privilege the social.investigation. in choosing ecocritical approaches. nature is the central category of analysis" ("Healing" 117). One of these consequences is that in drawing a distinction between ecocriticism and ecofeminism. looking at ways that they complement each other. we subordinate feminism and make it a topic for inclusion rather than a primary topic. sex/gender differences are at the centre of their analysis" (69. Another problem is that differentiating between ecofeminism and ecocriticism lands us in a bit of a Catch-22: in choosing ecofeminist approaches. but they are not synonymous terms. a matter for some speculation. and working toward defining more fully what each approach envisions. since it is far less productive than building on the strengths of each approach. we immediately seem to establish an agonistic discourse that sets ecofeminism and ecocriticism against each other as competing voices. Most ecofeminist scholars agree in the primacy of sex/gender . there remain unexamined . Mary Mellor explains that "although ecofeminists may differ in their focus. Why no scholars have taken the time and effort to explain the differences at length is.

emphasis added)--including. In spite of prioritizing nature in ecofeminism. in "ecofeminism" it is the second part of the term that has ontological priority. Ecocriticism that does not look at the relationship between the domination of women and the domination of the natural environment quite simply fails in its mandate to "make connections" and is quite simply not ecocriticism. this inclusionary view has been "generally embraced as a sound orientation" ." It is more the case that nature is included in the discussion. to put the puzzle of which humans are part before the piece.differences over nature as "the central category of analysis. It isn't .ecocriticism. including the domination of nonhuman nature" ("Toward" 119. King seems to agree with this position when she argues that "ecofeminist movement politics and culture must show the connection between all forms of domination. As Greta Gaard and Patrick Murphy observe. ecocriticism tries to be something else. but not beginning with it. What Murphy calls "nonfeminist ecological criticism" (Farther Afield 92) is simply that: nonfeminist ecological criticism. to move away from homocentric models. "what makes something a feminist issue is that an understanding of it contributes in some important way to an understanding of the subordination of women" ("Toward" 142). This emphasis means that ecofeminism is first a social theory.("Introduction" 3) So even though "eco" comes first in both terms. and the distinction needs to be made and maintained . I would also propose that ecocriticism done well is always a feminist issue: as Warren argues. a human-centred approach.

the parameters of ecocriticism are expanding rapidly.writes the ecocritic wants to track environmental ideas and representations wherever they appear.about nature and the natural By 1998. often part-concealed. with essay discussions ranging . Writing the Environment shows a refreshing extension of the scope and possibilities of ecocriticism. It suffers from a slightly narrow. though. (5. as with all things in an imperfect world. was a tremendous accomplishment. Most of all. as evidenced in the collection by Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells. emphasis added) Indeed. the collection is not without flaws. the first major collection of ecocriticism. Still. The comment is as true now as it was in 1996. ecocriticism seeks to evaluate texts and ideas in terms of their coherence and usefulness as responses to environmental crisis. Kerridge . Americanist focus and a strong partiality for texts .Expansions And Connections Bringing together many diverse and important themes and issues of ecocritical research. and it is not an exaggeration for Glotfelty to claim that "these are the essays with which anyone wishing to undertake ecocritical scholarship ought to be familiar" (xxvi). entitled Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and Literature. while the commitment to praxis remains strong. The Ecocriticism Reader. in a great many cultural spaces. In the introduction. to see more clearly a debate which seems to be taking place.

Undeniably. the collection. and the diversity in a book such as Reading under the Sign of Nature is not reflected in the sea of mostly white faces at the ASLE meetings. Reading under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism. and phenomenological methodologies that are informed by a healthy mix of racial. and cultural perspectives.was a surprisingly rapid development in ecocriticism Two years later. This twenty-essay collection takes up the call for expanding the boundaries of ecocriticism to include works not necessarily interested in the natural world. why it hasn't . This .from biblical to children's literature. Armbruster and Wallace'sBeyond Nature Writing is the most recent example.[25] but it is still very young: it has a lot of growing yet to do.[26] Still. The approaches include postmodern. ethnic."[27] One thing that distinguishes Beyond Nature Writing from books on ecocriticism published earlier is the zest and consistency with which it examines writing that falls outside of the fairly well defined contours of "nature writing. feminist. the unflagging vigor of ecocriticism's development is wildly encouraging. a call voiced repeatedly in the 1999 PMLA "Forum on Literatures of the Environment. bioregional. ecocriticism is maturing. thus opening important ecocritical opportunities for research well outside of the genre of nature writing. documents a continued commitment to critical and cultural diversity. and offer material ranging from Pueblo and Navajo wisdom to Buddhist understandings of the world." The reason why this is such difficult work.

I do not mean to imply that this is a bad thing." as Cheryll Glotfelty has remarked. activist-oriented.been done to any great degree relative to the work that has been done on writing that has "environmentally focused perspectives.. though it may provide an important base from which to begin ecocritical discussions. assuredly. theoretical. the goals and visions of ecocriticism have been fairly loose and inclusive. or aspects of the natural environment. This point brings us back to the question: what is ?ecocriticism Beyond Images of nature. from a theoretical standpoint. conceptual in-breeding. and does well. have been the topic of scores of treatises on such canonical favorites as Shakespeare and Chaucer. neither of which is. "remains to be done . but one might wonder at exactly what point cluster counting . Thematicism."[28] Moreover. examining nature writing is one of the things ecocriticism does. but when nature writing constitutes the sole purview of ecocriticism.. cannot be the goal of informed ecocriticism. and." is that. It buttresses "nature studies" and ecological literary criticism. "a vast amount of work. AND thematic. Focusing exclusively on nature writing wrongly suggests an essential link between ecocriticism as a methodology and nature writing as the object of its inquiry. ecocriticism. Thematicism runs against the grain of ecocriticism. technically speaking. the lack of diversity in the theoretical gene pool. and a weakening of contacts with the wider literary world will spell disaster for the approach.

homophobia.or commenting on an author's dexterity at weaving together image . as I have mentioned.something about the crises we have created We have been moving toward those kinds of understandings with each new book on ecocriticism that has come out since 1996.patterns and themes becomes ecocritical Though a great variety of voices do not always speak about ecocriticism in complete harmony. and tyranny are mutually reinforcing. sexism. persecution. Another is that it makes connections. One of these. Shakespeare would distinguish themselves from other readings of Shakespeare that have looked at nature. Johnson. the ways that racism. but the latest. Beyond Nature Writing. is that ecocriticism is committed to changing things.[29] Ecocriticism at its best seeks understandings about the ways that dynamics of subjugation. takes us the closest so far. cyber spaces-and broadens our understandings of "how. Milton. the natural." as Lisa J. with its startlingly diverse mix of commentaries that expand the boundaries of ecocriticism (both in terms of the applications that it offers and the theory that it develops). and so on. Kiser explains in her . It is in its ability to make connections that ecocritical readings of. Hardy.[30] This is not conspiracy theory. scifi. there is substantial agreement on some key issues. to use Ania Loomba's term. and so on work together and are. it is the logic of complementarity. say. Nevada test sites. unfurls into brave new worlds--Chaucer. Morrison. Beyond Nature Writing. and ecocriticism can be instrumental in helping us to understand it and to do . speciesism. interlocking.

What was surprising was that there even was a debate." Glotfelty contends. one " [2] for the critical school." Iowa Review 9. and one for the beginning of ecocritical publishing. . 105-23. in Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm. William Rueckert coined the term "ecocriticism" in "Literature and Ecology: An Experiment in Ecocriticism. 1996). "modern cultural assumptions about the environment have developed from their originary . In one.(however we define these terms) commitment Ecocriticism" really has three birthdays: one for the term.. rpt. the discussion grew into a debate about whether or not ecocriticism has to be based on personal commitment to environmental matters. roots. The debate was inconclusive. "ecological literary study. and. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology (Athens and London: University of Georgia Press.if we do it properly. Arizona. "had emerged as a recognizable critical school" (Ecocriticism Reader xviii). better effect in this troubled world Notes The topic came up in a number of panels at the 2001 ASLE [1] conference in Flagstaff. deeper scholarship. ed. With the establishment of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment in 1993 by Patrick Murphy.contribution. with the appearance of The Ecocriticism Reader and Lawrence Buell's The .1 (Winter 1978): 71-86. ecocriticism promises to offer more connections. In 1996. the ASLE-Overseas panel. It is difficult to imagine an ecocriticism that lacks personal and political .."[31] As it continues to unfurl.

The Ecocriticism Reader. The Environmental Imagination(Cambridge.Beyond Nature Writing. Reading the Earth: New Directions in the Study of Literature and the Environment(Moscow. Lawrence Buell. Richard Kerridge and Neil Sammells. ed. Idaho: University of Idaho Press.serious attention among scholars In this essay.library of material outside of these primary objects of concern Karla Armbruster and Kathleen Wallace. and Where To?" in Beyond Nature Writing. "Introduction: Why Go [4] . Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. 1998). These sources include Glotfelty and Fromm. Michael P. 2000). 1998). Branch et al. I draw on the healthy and growing . ed.Environmental Imagination. Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. When necessary. and Karla Armbruster and Kathleen Wallace. 2000). I offer partial and provisional comments that in no [3] way aspire to totalizing visions nor pretend to cover all of the important topics raised in primary sources I discuss. ed. John Talmadge and Henry Harrington. MA and London: Harvard University Press. ed. 1 . 1995). of course. ed. the term and the school began to receive .Writing the Environment: Ecocriticism and Literature (London and New York: Zed Books. Reading Under the Sign of Nature: New Essays in Ecocriticism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. 2001). Patrick Murphy.

Studies in Literature and the Environment 6." ISLE: Interdisciplinary " [9] .Letter. there has been much progress made elsewhere connecting environmentally oppressive structures with social ones. ed." " [5] . ed.5 (October 1999): 1092-93" [7] Revaluing Nature: Toward an Ecological Criticism. Adams and Josephine Donovan. 124-36 . Ecofeminism and the Sacred (New York: Continuum. 1986)." in Ecocriticism Reader. Animals and Women: Theoretical Explorations (Durham and London: Duke University Ecocriticism Reader.Against the Grain: Essays 1975-1985 (London: Verso.1 (Winter 1999): 65-81 .5 (October 1999): 1098-99" [10] Body Politics in American Nature Writing: 'Who may contest for " [11] ." PMLA 114. See particularly Carol J." PMLA 114. 225-40 Science.what the body of nature will be?' " inWriting the Environment.Letter. Discussions looking at dynamic similarities between the representation of women and animals are extensive. 71-87 .in Ecocriticism Reader. Carol J. Adams.Poststructuralism Meet. xv-xxxvii The Land and Language of Desire: Where Deep Ecology and " [6] . 1993). 1995). Adams.Introduction: literary studies in an age of environmental crisis. Anti-Science. 80 [12] In addition to what the essays cover in this AUMLA Special [13] Issue." " [8] . and Ecocriticism.. Neither Man . Carol J.

and Gender (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1995). Discussions that draw links between ecophobia (see note 18) and homophobia. "Toward a Queer Ecofeminism. 1991). and Annette Kolodny. Green Imperialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press." in Writing the Environment. "Acts of God: Providence. see Barbara White. Adams. 1994). the Jeremiad and Environmental Crisis. 91-109. Cyborgs. Links between geographies of exclusion and dissident sexualities are raised by many of the essays in David Bell and Gill Valentine. Haraway. Gretchen Legler. are more difficult to locate. and Richard H. and Donna J. Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience (Edinburgh: AK Press. Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier. 1995). Simians. There is also a growing body of work that looks at women and geography: Gillian Rose. see Buell 53-82. Place. Grove. 1991). The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory(New York: Continuum. and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge. 1995). 1989). . Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press." Hypatia 12. 1995).Nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals (New York: Continuum. ed. Mapping Desire: Geographies of Sexualities (London and New York: Routledge. A flurry of greatly diversified discussion has recently appeared linking racism and fear and contempt for the natural environment. Ecology in the Twentieth Century: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press. Carol J. Space. 1993). and Greta Gaard. The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Anna Bramwell. 1975). on the other hand. Doreen Massey.1 (Winter 1997): 114-37.

and trans. otherwise.of being anachronistic What is Ecocriticism?" . 2.studies. 6" [16] The Odes and Epodes of Horace.(Chicago and London: University of Chicago this paper . (Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Clancy [17] .Despite all of this. clearly distinguishable from "nature . 1960) I first used the term in "Environmental Implications of the [18] Writing and Policing of the Early Modern Body: Dismemberment and Monstrosity in Shakespearean Drama. 3rd ed. 1997) and John Elder's Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature (Urbana: University of Illinois Press. mountains of work remain. Further references to Sarver's work are" [15] . 1985) among these early monographs." Shakespeare Review 33 (Spring 1998): 135. If ecocriticism is to stand on its own. By "ecophobia. we run the risk . Joseph P." in Writing the Environment. As Jonathan Levin succinctly observes. ed. "nature and culture are mutually entangled in complex and inherently elusive ways": "Letter.Introduction. I would propose a clarification of terms and suggest that anything before 1996 is proto-ecocritical.5 (October 1999): 1098. A comparison with misogyny makes the ." PMLA 114." I mean irrational and groundless hatred of the natural world. or aspects of it." then how it relates to social matters matters Tallmadge and Harrington include Joseph Meeker's Comedy of [14] Survival: Literary Ecology and a Play Ethic.

My clean long grass posed no threat to is time we started to look at it . including eroticism. women are raped and butchered like the land. enclosure. The mania for cutting grass strikes me as ecophobic. as do notions about personal cleanliness. Sexualization of landscapes has more to do with visualizing power and indifference than with allegorizing sexuality or desire. raping. to cite only a few (150). It didn't make sense to me.term clearer. The experience of early American landscapes. has more to do with violence than sexuality. In conceptual terms. and nurture. each of which details one of the many elements of that experience. and so on. and I thought I might soon be cited and fined for my hair (which was relatively long at the time). embrace. The mentality that sees women as environmental commodities is one that does not blanch at prospects of violence to either the natural world or the women who live in it. Annette Kolodny argues. is variously expressed through an entire range of images. penetration. As rape implies misogyny. there is a kind of equation between women and the land. and . I was cited and fined in 1995 by the city sanitation board for not cutting my grass. the preference for perfumes over natural bodily odours. as an example of misogyny. Rape. But we can take this a bit further. in material terms. sexualized landscapes imply ecophobia. Their logic (and I lost on appeal) was that long grass causes a public menace by allowing introduction of "vermin" and "pests" into the city. the military passion for cutting hair. Ecophobia is a subtle thing that takes many forms.

Some of the influential titles include No ël Sturgeon. 165 See also Murphy's "Anotherness and Inhabitation in Recent [20] . Gender.SUNY Press." inWriting the Environment. Carolyn Merchant (New Jersey: Humanities Press. Ynestra King. 42 Toward an Ecological Feminism and a Feminist Ecology. Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein (San Francisco: Sierra Club." in Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. Feminist Theory and Political Action (New York and London: Routledge. Fran çoise d'Eaubonne. Nature. "Toward an Ecological Feminism" and Val Plumwood. ed. 1997). Val Plumwood. 1983). Ecology. in Key Concepts in Critical Theory: Ecology. "Feminism and the Revolt of Nature. 1995). Ruth Hottell).Literature. Supplement to Vol. Ynestra King. ed." inKey Concepts in Critical . "Ecosocial Feminism as a General Theory of Oppression. ed. Joan . "Healing the Wounds: Feminism." in Key Concepts in Critical Theory. Ynestra King. and the Nature/Culture Dualism. "The Time for Ecofeminism" (trans. 174-97. 106-21. 64 (June 1986): 120-39." " [21] in Machina Ex Dea: Feminist Perspectives on Technology. 1994). "Ecofeminism: An overview and discussion of positions and arguments. 118 The body of ecofeminist theory and commentary is vast. and Other: Ecofeminist Critiques (Albany: [19] . and a [22] thorough bibliography of it would constitute a manuscript-length volume. Ecofeminist Natures: Race. 1990).Rothschild (New York: Pergamon. 198-206." Australasian Journal of Philosophy.Multicultural American Literature.

220-34. "Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology." in Reweaving the World. Greta Gaard and Patrick Murphy (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Literature. "Shifting Ground: Metanarratives. 100-5. "Nature. 1993). Wollstonecraft. Val Plumwood. Zimmerman. 1998). Carolyn Merchant. Karen Green. Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (New York: HarperCollins." in Reweaving the World. Epistemology. Pedagogy. and the Stories of ." in Reweaving the World. Environmental Philosophy. "Freud. and Ecofeminism: A Defense of Liberal Feminism. ed. "Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology: Reflections on Identity and Difference. Judith Plant. 1-13. Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva. ed." in Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Theory. Self. The Death of Nature: Women. "Essentialism in Ecofeminist Discourse" in Key Concepts in Critical Theory.Theory. and the Critique of Rationalism. Marti Kheel. and Other. "Introduction." in Reweaving the World. "Ecofeminism and the politics of resistance. "Deep Ecology and Ecofeminism: The Emerging Dialogue. Freya Mathews. "Searching for Common Ground: Ecofeminism and Bioregionalism. Patrick Murphy. and Gender: Feminism. Michael E. Ecofeminism (London and New Jersey: Zed Books. 207-19. 12227. 138-54." Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems 16." in Reweaving the World. 1990). 23545. 155-61. Mary Mellor. Greta Gaard and Partick Murphy. Carolyn Merchant. Feminism and Ecology(New York: New York University Press.1 (Spring 1991): 3-27. Lee Quinby. 128-37. "Ecofeminism and Feminist Theory." Hypatia 6. 1997). Interpretation. Naure.2 (Summer 1994): 116-34." inKey Concepts in Critical Theory. Rebecca Raglon and Marian Scholtmeijer. Elizabeth Carlassare.

" in The Symbolic Earth: Discourse and Our Creation of the Environment.2 (Summer 1995): 150-69. Karen J.1 (Spring 1996): 18-38. "Rethinking Again: A defense of . Ariel Salleh. Ariel Salleh. 1997). Karen J. ed." in Ecofeminism: Women.1 (1987): 3-20." Hypatia 6.2 (December 1988): 140-56. 1997). Marx and the Postmodern (New York and London: Zed Books. Deborah Slicer. Cantrill and Christine L.1 (Spring 1991): 179-197. "Class."Studies in the Humanities 15. eds. Nature. "Retalking Environmental Discourses from a Feminist Perspective: The Radical Potential of Ecofeminism." Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems 9." Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems 15 (Fall 1993): 225-44. James G. 1996). Connie Bullis.2 (Spring 1996): 161-184. Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature. Douglas J. xixvi. "Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology. Warren. and Gender Discourse in the Ecofeminism/Deep Ecology Debate. Karen J. Warren and Jim Cheney."Hypatia 11. Warren and Nisvan Erkal (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press."Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems 18. Culture. "Toward an Ecofeminist Ethic. Buege. 123-48. "Is There an Ecofeminism-Deep Ecology 'Debate'?"Environmental Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Journal Dedicated to the Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Problems 17. Warren.Nature. Warren "Feminism and Ecology: Making Connections. "Introduction. Race. "Ecofeminist Literary Criticism: Reading the Orange. Ovarec (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. Karen J. Josephine Donovan. Karen J.

Karen J. "The Limits of Partiality: Ecofeminism. Animal Rights.See Sturgeon 167-96 [23] While we must. Many other texts could be added to this list . narratives of interconnection can be offered as alternatives to local and topical analyses. but alternatives whose usefulness can be judged only in terms of their greater explanatory power and fidelity to the facts as they are known than in terms of their absolute. Performance. ed. be wary of making generalizations.158-178. and Environmental Concern. supra-historical truth claims. Lloyd Davis (Newark: University of Delaware Press." in the sense of aspiring to universal truth claims of the sort discredited by critiques of Enlightenment epistemologies. 42-63. Teaching. 1994)." in Ecological Feminism. Warren and Barbara Wells-Howe (London and New York: Routledge. Johnson. This kind of argument can apply to discussions about methods of inquiry . David Kenneth Johnson and Kathleen R. claiming that "an almost obsessive fear of falling prey to a reductive 'master narrative' has severely inhibited the range and character of narrative being written about the [early modern] period": "Material Shakespeare/Materialist Shakespeare. of course. and Kolodny. Jim Cheney." in Ecological Feminism.ecofeminist philosophy. ed. [24] we also do well to consider arguments Jean Howard puts forward in a forthcoming collection of essays. "Nature/Theory/Difference: Ecofeminism and the reconstuction of environmental ethics. Rather. forthcoming 2002)." inShakespeare Matters: History. 106-119. Howard goes on to maintain that a narrative of interconnections is not necessarily a "master narrative." in Ecological Feminism. .

as much as to discussions about historical periods, at least in its disavowal
of aspirations to reductivism and totalizing explanations. My purpose is to
provide the partial and provisional comments Howard discusses, but for
.two general theoretical camps: ecofeminism and ecocriticism
I would suggest that the "maturation of the field" (x) of which [25]
the editors speak is perhaps best seen as a process of maturation rather
than as a state of completion following a long journey of development. I
.do not mean to imply that the editors meant otherwise by the phrase
At the third biennial ASLE conference in Kalamazoo, a group of [26]
ASLE members got together on June 4, 1999 to address the lack of
diversity within the membership. The result was that we formed the
.Caucus for Diversity. Lack of diversity, however, remains a problem
As Elizabeth Dodd correctly notes, "Ecocritics have dedicated [27]
much of their attention to nature writing," and this has precluded
attention to cultural diversity among the authors considered:
"Letter," PMLA 114.5 (October 1999): 1094. My own piece argues that a
singular focus on American nature writing will lead to a disciplinary
xenophobia that could ultimately ruin ecocriticism (or, at the minimum,
prevent it from effecting wider social changes) and that ecocriticism and
nature studies are not necessarily the same thing: "Letter,"PMLA 114.5
(October 1999): 1095-96. Ursula K. Heise argues in a similar vein that
"ecocriticism has nothing specifically to do with American literature ...
[with] nature writing ... [or with] literature: "Letter,"PMLA 114.5 (October

1999): 1097. When ecocriticism does lift its head outside of
environmentally-oriented writings, the results are inspiring, as Louise
Westling remarks: "The new fields of environmental literature and
ecocriticism are already exploring the possibilities of ... [textual]
reevaluation, and they provide immensely fruitful results that intersect
with feminist theory, postcolonial theory, cultural studies, and indeed
basic readings of every kind of literary text: "Letter," PMLA 114.5 (October
.1999): 1104
Cheryll Glotfelty, "Re: CFP: The Nature of Shakespeare (11/3; [28]
.3/1/01-3/3/01) (fwd)," personal email (14 July 2000)
There is no shortage of books and articles that look at the [29]
representations of natural environments in Shakespeare. In general, these
books and articles fall under two categories: the formalist camp and what
I would call the proto-ecocritical group. The formalists have looked at
birds, plants (especially flowers), gardens, the relationship between
Nature (as a general theme) and genre, the way the natural environment
could be seen to fit into cosmic patterns, and so on. The difference
between the group I am calling proto-ecocritical and the earlier group is in
the kind of analysis that is being undertaken. While the former is
structuralist (concerned primarily with enumerating instances of thematic
clusters, with comparing such clusters, with trying to get idealist pictures
of the English Renaissance, and so on), the latter is poststructuralist in its
various movements toward theoretical analysis of the ways that thinking
and talking about the natural world interrelate with other early modern

discourses. Jeanne Addison Roberts in The Shakespearean Wild:
Geography, Genus, and Gender (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
1991), "marks the stages in the evolution of Shakespeare's ideas" about
the Wild (84), in a largely formalist attempt to analyse discursive
relationships, "how the construction of Culture and Wild [in Shakespearean
literature] shapes our perceptions of females" (12). John Gillies,
in Shakespeare and the Geography of Difference (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1994), relying heavily on detailed discussions about the
influence of classical texts on Shakespeare, elegantly maps the
coordinates linking geographical difference with social exclusion and
otherness; Richard Marienstras, a proto-new historicist, tries, among other
things, to unearth early modern environmental laws, the background
against which Shakespeare wrote; see his New Perspectives on the
Shakespearean World, trans. Janet Lloyd (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press; Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme,
1985). Linda Woodbridge looks at interconnected representations of land
and body, penetration and pollution, at how sexualized landscapes form
part of semiotic systems she calls "the discourse of fertility" (159), and at
ways that this discourse overlaps and interacts with discourses of magic;
in particular, see "Protection and Pollution: Palisading the Elizabethan
Body Politic," and "Green Shakespeare," in The Scythe of Saturn:
Shakespeare and Magical Thinking (Urbana and Chicago: University of
Illinois Press, 1994), 45-85, 152-205. Certainly a lot has been written
about the environment in Shakespeare, and while none of it explicitly aims
at offering ecocritical readings, much of it provides very useful bases on

Any serious queer theory will always look at issues of class or gender or race or all three of them. class. and sexuality by adding a new angle: views toward the natural world. Race. chick. class. 1989). Queer theory complicates the trinity of race. [30] Renaissance Drama (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. and gender] structures of oppression" (emphasis in original). and so on. thirty-nine times.which such criticism might found itself. when we hear anti-Semites calling Shylock a dog. entitled "The Nature of Shakespeare. Loomba promises to talk about the "interlocking of these various [race. Ecocriticism complicates the nexus of race. ploughing the virgin field). Ohio at the "Ohio Shakespeare Conference. The most promising recent gesture vowing to link ecocritical approaches and Shakespeare texts came in March 2001 in Toledo. My point here is a simple one: oppressive social structures are often dynamically intertwined with our views about the natural world. and gender by adding another angle: sexual behaviour/identity. We know this intuitively when we hear men equating women with nonhuman animals (bitch." This conference. when we hear the urban poor referred to as dirt. class." took as its focus the relationships between "Nature" and Shakespeare and showed a remarkable openness to discussions that ranged far outside the . bunny. cow. and so on). But if .thematicism that has so long dominated other similar discussions On the very first page of her influential Gender. and it is a promise that the rest of the book largely keeps. gender. when we hear environmental behaviour defined in violent sexual (usually heterosexual) terms (raping the land.

davis@mailbox." in Beyond Nature Writing. please contact the AUMLA editor. " [31] . at lloyd. reposted. Lloyd This essay originally appeared in a special ecocritical issue of AUMLA: The Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association No.asle. 96 (November 2001): 220-38. Posted with permission to the ASLE Web site. being able to talk about them on a . This article may not be know these things on a gut . or distributed without permission from AUMLA .uq. http://www. For further information about this issue.theoretical level is a completely different matter Chaucer and the politics of nature.

poet laureate coaches and coaxes. "They've learned to see the environment as diagrams and feedback loops. "How many of you don't know any more than that it's a tree?" Most students raise their hands. The professor is perturbed. by Joan Hamilton On a balmy September afternoon. "What kind of tree is this?" a professor asks. In this brief venture outdoors.Nature 101 Gazing at crows." he says.S. the genial former U. finding a particle of profundity in each. an expert on forests and fungi." Back in the classroom." It's the second week of environmental studies class at theUniversity of California at Berkeley. teaches the science. but most can't tell a pine from a fir. "I don't think we have a chance of changing our relationship to the natural world if you don't know what's around you. They can converse knowledgeably about chlorofluorocarbons and the ozone hole. Professor Robert Hass is trying to get these brainy kids away from abstractions so they can really look at their surroundings. "They've read too much systems theory." he says. "The point is to pay attention. The reading list includes everything from . counting the needles ofpines-it's all part of an academic adventure known asenvironmental studies. respectfully eliciting student comments. Silence. about a hundred students at one of the finest public universities in the nation are gathered under a sprawling Monterey pine. though. pondering Thoreau. or even an oak. Hass teaches the literary half of the course while pony-tailed Professor Greg Gilbert.

says Utah State University English professor Thomas J. then a MacArthur . At the end of one lecture. and ourselves in it." Hass has arrived a bit late. winning the Yale prize for younger poets in 1973. as one system.200 members. and teachers of literature like it because they're bored with theory. the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment. For the most devoted. his thinning white hair disheveled. S. 1854. and Gary Snyder convinced him to turn his life to poetry." said Brown University English professor Barton St. Ezra Pound. too." A professional organization has arisen. Eliot. Nature is tangible. Born in San Francisco in 1941. but the work of authors like Theodore Roethke. "This is a new place in the curriculum. a confused student comes to the podium to ask Gilbert. Hass attended Catholic schools just across the bay in Marin County. Sylvia Plath. nonexistent 30 years ago. Armand in the New York Times Magazine. Lyon.stodgy peer-reviewed papers to swaggering Edward Abbey. studying environmental literature is a grand adventure. primarily in the United States. Allen Ginsberg. Literary theory wasn't real. numbering at least 200 in 1998. T. with 1. For a while he toyed with the idea of writing essays or novels. "Students like it because it taps into some very basic concerns. are immensely popular in the United States today." In this class the journey begins with a name and a number on the chalkboard: "Walden. He was a success from the start. "a halting journey toward understanding the world. "What is this class about?" College courses in environmental literature.

he decided to spend a couple of years in a cabin he built on the outskirts of Concord. Massachusetts: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately. Nature has played a central role in poems and stories spanning all of human history. But none of these works is considered "nature writing" today. Sometimes picking up a book can feel like coming into a room at a party where you don't understand what people are talking about. and Indian literature. But his work encompasses far more than birds and burnished hillsides. Knowing a little history can help. Nature was an intrinsic part of ancient Chinese. "He sharpens our senses on the whetstone of his noticing. Only when mechanization began to sever our ties with nature did writers invent new forms to try to repair the damage. After Henry David Thoreau graduated from Harvard. says playwright Brighde Mullins. That genre developed in the last couple of centuries in Europe and the United States--an unintended by-product of the Industrial Age. Field Guide. Hass tries to ease the fears of those unaccustomed to studying literature. Japanese. Hass is a "plein air poet" whose natural world includes food and wine. as well as Western classics such as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. to front only the essential facts of life. might land the slim volume on the bookstore nature shelf. The title and the evocative descriptions of the Californialandscape in Hass's first book.fellowship and two National Book Critics Circle awards before he was named poet laureate in 1995." In one of his first lectures. oral epics first written down in the 8th century B. he explains.C. and see if I could not learn what it . film and painting.

Georgia. A seemingly serviceable phrase like "the bird sings. but the students are keeping journals. discover that I had not lived. But Walden offered a nature essay that was more intensely personal than anything that had come before. A starling sounds like a rusty hinge. students pick a plant and observe it for 30 minutes. Classic explorations like William Bartram's 1791 Travels (in Florida." Hass explains." Hass says. They draw the plant and describe it both scientifically and poetically. masks vast human ignorance about bird behavior. but sloppy writers call that "singing" too. I don't know which tree! Don't laugh. "It's hard for us to understand the originality of Walden. to observe as accurately as scientists and as creatively as poets. A robin reminds one student of a ping pong ball: "It seems to bounce from one place to another so lightly.)" . They are supposed to write in them every couple of days. and South Carolina) had cast just as close an eye on the nonhuman world. Romantic poetry had touched on the same themes of divinity in nature and mechanization of society." The thoughts Thoreau penned in his journal became Walden. (Yes. Another week. they watch a bird for 5 minutes or so and describe its doings. Word choice is crucial. The first week." Another student spots a crow: "I saw Corvus americanus perched on the branch of some tree.had to teach. and not. the book that planted the seeds for the hardy new genre. when I came to die. That so-called singing could mean that humans have invaded a bird's territory and it would like to peck their eyes out. There are no Thoreaus in this California classroom (at least not yet).

. while requiring only three chapters of Leopold." The class will roam nearby Mt. published in 1949.When Hass was an undergraduate studying biology at Saint Mary's College. Reading the book's mix of natural history and philosophy as a young person had been a life-changing experience for him.m. and write a paper on whether classification was knowledge. just east of Berkeley. watch birds for six hours a week. But what a great thing you'd have to write about if you got attacked by a great white shark!" When Hass taught this course a year earlier he assigned his students all 228 pages of Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. "Is there any way of doing it a little later?" one girl pleads. "It was great. Hass speculates. Tamalpais State Park and Stinson Beach on Labor Day." he says." Hass is offering Wednesday bird-walks at 7 a. "There might not be swimming. "The class never met. So this year Hass is pushing the journals and field trips. Leopoldian declarations such as "The chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech" don't mean much if you've never felt the joy of spotting this pale purple flower poking out of barren soil at the end of a long winter." Hass says. "But then there wouldn't be many birds. he was given a pair of binoculars and told to read Aristotle's Physics and Darwin on evolution." Hass says. Last year. The class will read less and look more. though. "because there's a great white shark offshore. "We could. most of the students were underwhelmed by the environmental classic--maybe because they haven't spent much time outdoors.

" When the graduate assistant sums up by saying that most of us lack close connections to nature." he says.Students respond readily to Leopold's ideas about a "land ethic. and literature in this class attracts a diverse mix of students (whose names have been changed for this article). Rachel. who grew up in rural California." he says. "I'm much more bored in the middle of civilization than in the middle of nowhere. speaks longingly of starry nights and avocado groves. you ask. David." With a bold "VEGAN" patch on his backpack. why is it here and how did it get to be the way it is?" Leopold's way of thinking can yield a story. "We are radically changing the planet. David is the most visible class activist. even literature. "When you see something. back from a year living in the Middle East. philosophy. see nature as something alien. but as the big story itself. "Whether we know it or not. a sharp-tongued young woman with close-cropped black hair pulled back in a bandana. though. . Many of the others. But it's more difficult to teach what Hass sees as the "bedrock" Leopoldian way of looking at the world. we are all connected." Heather admits that she's an eccentric: Years ago she shocked her elementary school classmates by kissing banana slugs and collecting bugs. calls it an "alternate reality. one of a handful of African-American students in the class. In one weekly discussion section. "It is a habit of mind that goes with environmental biology. objects. The Leopoldian melding of science. has discovered. Louisa. Sarah." the notion that we should view nature not as a commodity but as part of our community. with nature serving not as the backdrop for human drama. especially after he dyes his hair green in October.

Muir read Thoreau." For David. with dreamy dark eyes and long dark hair. and you got national parks. for artistic values to percolate down to where honoring the relation of people's imagination to the land." Hass will agree that there are some treacly and preachy tomes . mystical oneness. The genre displays "a painfully limited set of responses.When he arrives for class with the new look. When the students read "Daybreak. "It took a century for this to happen. who leads class field trips and writes papers on fishery decline and the virtues of vegetarianism. That puts David squarely in the nature-writing tradition." Galway Kinnell's poem about starfish moving across a muddy shore like stars traversing the night sky." Hass says. while Professor Gilbert murmurs something about "growing ecological consciousness. piety. or to wild things. "That's beautiful!" A stern English major interrupts: "We can't just say 'that's beautiful. It's revolution--a way of thinking that could change the world." Sitting next to David in the section is Laura the aesthete. "My goodness." the poet says appreciatively. But "Thoreau read Wordsworth. Teddy Roosevelt read Muir. or to beauty. awe. Nature writing has a happy. wholesome aspect that gives it a bad name in literature departments more accustomed to neurosis and angst. Hass walks over to admire it. People may not think of Thoreau as an activist. environmental studies is not just a step toward graduation. was issued in legislation. Laura declares." says novelist and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates: "Reverence.' " she reminds her. The class gives her inspiring quotations for her calligraphy.

" Good nature writers." through meticulous. And it is not Gifford Pinchot. too. he adds. This stuff is going to be in your hands for the next 50 years. Try to get the drift and the feel. At the moment we don't have a dead Secretary of Interior . "You have got to do the reading." He'll even admit that "a lot of nature writing is predictable and not very instructive." ." he scolds. the class has taken two midterms. "you could say that about the writing in any genre. perplexing. well-informed descriptions of the world and all its creatures." The assigned reading is voluminous and. "You are brilliant students at a great public university." But. at times. they did better on the science than the literary portions. though it has been known to happen. . To help the class read Gary Snyder's Myths and Texts. Hass is initially gentle: "It takes time to learn what questions to ask when reading literary texts. "model whole new ways of seeing."that offer moral uplift over science and reason and thought. Hass passes out several pages of notes and offers this advice: "Don't be uptight about understanding every little bit of it. "There were some especially creative suggestions on the question about who the Secretary of Interior is. On the first. Smokey Bear. ." They had problems on the second test. "But I'd like to clarify: The answer is not Bill Gates." while all the other writing in recent decades should be called "urban dysfunctional writing. or the guy Dave who does the Wendy's commercials. Author Gary Nabhan has half-seriously suggested that what we now call nature writing should simply be called "literature." By the first week in November. Hass says." But he bristles when he finds that most students haven't done the reading for the day's lecture." Hass notes.

who reportedly told Snyder. Rachel Carson. published in 1991." Hass admits) as well as the tale of the catastrophic flooding of the Bear River Migratory ." Hass says. Wendell Berry. With finals approaching they have begun reading diligently and broadly." Snyder writes in "first shaman song. Snyder's "this poem is for bear" mentions huckleberries and blackberries. Aldo Leopold." Myths and Texts uses techniques drawn from modernist art. Gary Snyder. and Barry Lopez. but rather ideas scattered like the parts of a collage. including those of Henry David Thoreau. There's sometimes no clear narrative or argument on the page. "I sit without thoughts by the logroad/ Hatching a new myth/watching the waterdogs/the last truck gone. but they exhibit far more intellectual flexibility than author Jack Kerouac. John Muir. Finally the class picks up the most recent work on the reading list. Its naturalist author has read all the books the class has read. Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge. students seem to enjoy spinning wild theories about the poet's intent. Is the poem about fertility? Fecundity? Feminism? The students never quite decide. Robinson Jeffers. and builds on them to offer something new. Refuge was an "instant classic. Wallace Stegner.Written half a century ago by a man Hass calls "our best poet of nature. Edward Abbey. sampling works written over a span of 150 years. She tells the story of her mother's struggle with cancer ("one of the most protracted deaths in modern literature. Ann Zwinger. "I know what all the words mean. Mary Austin. but I don't know what the hell you're saying." By late November." In discussions. the students no longer need Hass's help to understand the conversations at the nature-writing party.

" to make sure their ideals will stand up to reality. You never know when your work will bear fruit. "It's a new kind of writing that reflects a broader awareness. but in values that appeal to all different kinds of people. and get cynical." says one quiet young woman. "But teaching literature is like planting seeds deep in the ground. like Thoreau. "Why do we have to read this boring stuff?" Hass is philosophical about such comments. too." But some think the story of a drowning marsh and a heart-warmingly functional Mormon family is too tame. Hass urges his students to build "strong dreams. He quotes W." he says." ." A strong dream for an environmentalist of our era might be different from the ideals projected in earlier nature writing. B. Set in Salt Lake City. some literature classes turn into lessons on life." he says. "I like the autobiographical approach. Yeats on the Irish: "We had fed the heart on fantasies./The heart's grown brutal from the fare." Inevitably." Hass says. which can turn in a second to vicious ethnic rivalry. you just expect the kids to know it. get scar tissue. "I think this is the most impressive thing we've read.Bird Refuge in the 1980s. the book is a deeply personal human drama. And it would allow for difference-not just the current multiculturalism. A young man grouses. yet takes nature's struggles personally. Hass suggests. "If you teach the nitrogen cycle. The reviews in class are mixed. humble farmers? "We don't want to tell ourselves sentimental stories. "It would have something to do with cities. build a cabin and live alone? Shed technology and become hunter-gatherers? Become happy. Should they.

) For more restless folk. "Well. Sure. rooted people an environmental life might include tending gardens and caring about community." More satisfaction comes after class is dismissed. there is the comatose kid in rumpled khakis. regales the class with his recent adventures as a nonviolent demonstrator in Seattle. "Can you have Wendell Berry's agricultural. really. in my mind. But half a dozen energetic scholars march up front and rattle off dates and names and ideas to help students review for the final. Here is hard evidence of which ideas have (and haven't) moved the students. wearing a "No WTO" button on his cap. "I have been forced to address my own complicity with . it might mean artistic ventures and explorations farther afield. A pain. You look great. Another group describes its work helping the city of Berkeley bring long-buried Strawberry Creek above ground near campus. surprises--what people love about cities?" Hass muses. "You are going to be standing in public forums many times in the future.For settled. he says happily: He was tear-gassed by the police as he sat on the ground meditating. ("Fighting to keep a chain store out of your neighborhood is environmentalism. you can. half-dozing behind a blue and gray baseball cap. and communitarian values and still have freedom. "You are inspiring. When Hass comes back to the podium. "The environment theme is sort of a constraint. But there are signs of growth. disruptions of rhythms. organic." Hass says. Hass reaps part of the reward for good teaching. when Hass reads the students' journals. he is beaming. It was outrageous." he tells the students." On the last day." complains one budding novelist. innovation. David.

org/sierra/200011/nature." she writes. and oaks of the Berkeley hills. Some have hiked up the hill to the deer. however. because of the way she looks. and turtles of Tilden Park to investigate a wilder place. either." says another student.asp . frogs. Initial consternation about the muddling of science and literature has morphed into pleasure in viewing the world as a whole. and maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not today. But some people don't consider her a real American. corporate forces in America. "Changing my point of view is slow and uncomfortable. a child of Chinese immigrants explains how nature helps her straddle two cultures." Joan Hamilton is editor-in-chief of Sierra. Out among the redwoods.sierraclub. In one journal. "People will learn somehow or another. she feels totally. "They will understand the importance of nature. bays. but one day. joyfully at home. http://www." Students who didn't know a pine from a pineapple at first have now made the acquaintance of at least a few of the plants and animals that surround them on the Cal campus. She's not entirely comfortable in China because she was born in the United States.the selfish.

powerful prose. one must know the land it is lived in and the procession of the year. "I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. . 1991 A keen-eyed naturalist embraces adversity in this moving account of her mother's battle with cancer and the Bear River Refuge's struggle against the rising waters of theGreat Salt Lake. this book introduced the idea that wolves are good and a "land ethic" is essential. concert halls. Williams writes. Even after losing what she loves. "There is no place on earth I would rather be. reckless ranting." A hardy early feminist makes a harsh landscape on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada come alive through spare. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. like to study environmental literature? Here are a dozen classics. 1968 With humor. Its graceful prose still helps crystallize thoughts for nature lovers today. "Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?" Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. "Cactus Ed" chronicles his stint as a seasonal ranger in Arches National Park and makes a strong case for the preservation of all wild places: "We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. 1949 Half a century ago. and loving descriptions of the desert.Nature's Finest Would you." Land of Little Rain by Mary Hunter Austin." Leopold says. too. 1903 "To understand the fashion of any life.

" Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. who are called . newness. spendthrift energy. this stone. finds his home on the Laguna Indian Reservation in New Mexico ravaged by alcohol and rage. Ancient ceremonies. help him navigate the chaos. This earth keeps us going. 1978 An edgy feminist classic argues that Western religion andphilosophy have promoted the power of men over both women and nature. we should treat our national parks with the same deference. Tayo's uncle Josiah tells him. are holy places." Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. close to nature. and a kind of exuberant. see. legislative assemblies. This sand." Walden by Henry David Thoreau. these trees. "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. "This is where we come from. I find mystery. the vines. too. I find an intricate landscape whose forms are fringed in death. and other sanctums of our culture. a fictional World War II veteran. private bedrooms. for they. those robbed of language. 1974 A young woman in 20th century Virginia tries to live like museums. whose words have been stolen or erased. with revelatory results: "In nature I find grace tangled in a rapture with violence. all the wildflowers. 1854 The current crop of nature writing is all rooted in this quirky personal story about simple living." Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin. deeply rooted to the land. 1977 Tayo. "These words are written for those of us whose language is not heard.

they are a good people to know.S. Lopez says. Facing as we do our various Armageddons. ban on DDT and added pollution to the environmental agenda. polar bears. and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth." Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. 1990 With Sierra Nevada dust on his boots. humans." Practice of the Wild by Gary Snyder. "Do you really believe you are an animal? We are now taught this in school.voiceless or mute. Though full of wisdom from around the world." Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. "They have a quality of nuannaarpoq. for those of us who speak our own language. 1986 This learned history of the Far North probes the lives of narwhals. belugas. It is a wonderful piece of information: I have been enjoying it all my life and I come back to it over and over again. and they delight in finding it in other people. Its lucid scientific lessons on the dangers of pesticides conclude with a warning worth heeding today: "It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons. and other life forms that have eked out a living in this dazzling. difficult land. Of the Eskimos. even the earthworms. the book is at times as pleasantly personal as a good conversation. as something to investigate and test. one of America's finest poets of nature uses the essay form to explore how people learn to feel at home in the places they inhabit. even the shellfish and the sponges. of taking extravagant pleasure in being alive. 1962 This book inspired a U." .

the world is transformed. Days unfold. "Keenly observed." http://www. bathed in their own The air between people is charged. "The landscape is engorged with detail. Nights become hallucinatory.The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich. every movement on it chillingly sharp.asp .sierraclub." Ehrlich says. 1985 Nature moodily takes center stage when a filmmaker from Los Angeles-the author herself--tries herding sheep on the windswept plains of Wyoming. dreams prescient.