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The Nature Essay: Ecocritical Explorations is the first extended study of a powerful literary form born out of the traditions of Enlightenment and Romanticism. It traces the varied stylistic paradigms of the ‘nature essay’ down to the present day. Reading essays as platforms for ecological discourse, the book analyses canonical and marginalised texts, mainly from German, English and American literature. Simone Schröder argues that the essay’s environmental impact is rooted in its negotiation of scientific, poetic, spiritual, and ethical modes of perceiving nature. Together, the chapters on these four aspects form a historical panorama of the nature essay as a genre that continues to flourish in our time of ecological crisis.

Authors discussed include: Alexander von Humboldt, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Robert Musil, Ernst Jünger, W.G. Sebald, Kathleen Jamie, and David Foster Wallace.
Mapping Shifts from Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism
From Ego to Eco – Mapping Shifts from Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism investigates philosophical, political and aesthetic formations of ecocentrism. Representing a variety of disciplines and testing a broad scope of critical approaches, the contributors of this volume argue that anthropocentrism is not - as often claimed - a predominant world view but, rather, a widely contested concept. Within various historical and national contexts, the individual contributors of this book discuss the significance and relevance of ecocentrism and offer new avenues to emerging discourses in the humanities.

Contributors are: Darrell Arnold, Roman Bartosch, Aengus Daly, Gearoid Denvir, Elisabeth Jütten, Karla McManus, Sabine Lenore Müller, Maureen O’ Connor, Lillis Ó Laoire, Helen Phelan, Tina-Karen Pusse, and Christian Schmitt-Kilb.
Ecocriticism and the Event of Postcolonial Fiction
Author: Roman Bartosch
This book addresses the role and potential of literature in the process of contesting and re-evaluating concepts of nature and animality, describing one’s individual environment as the starting point for such negotiations. It employs the notion of the ‘literary event’ to discuss the specific literary quality of verbal art conceptualised as EnvironMentality. EnvironMentality is grounded on the understanding that fiction does not explain or second scientific and philosophical notions but that it poses a fundamental challenge to any form of knowledge manifesting in processes determined by the human capacity to think beyond a given hermeneutic situation. Bartosch foregrounds the dialectics of understanding the other by means of literary interpretation in ecocritical readings of novels by Amitav Ghosh, Zakes Mda, Yann Martel, Margaret Atwood and J.M. Coetzee, arguing that EnvironMentality helps us as readers of fiction to learn from the books we read that which can only be learned by means of reading: to “think like a mountain” (Aldo Leopold) and to know “what it is like to be a bat” (Thomas Nagel).
Literature as cultural discourse has always courted mobility. From the nomadic wanderings of the heroes of Homer and Virgil through the adventures of the medieval knight-errants to the travellers of modern times, movement and mobility have been constitutive elements of story-telling. Since writers have begun to explore the experiential dimension of movement their texts have embraced the essential changeability and instability of ‘mobile worlds’. In this sense literature reflects and processes the transformative force of movement on the perception of the world and is part of the broader cultural discourses of mobility.
From the 1936 film Night Mail to the rapid movements of the dime novel detective and the metaphorical coding of automobility in Futurist poetry, the essays in this volume offer new perspectives on the phenomenon of mobility at the intersection between the literary imagination and cultural experience. They explore movement as a decisive force of change in the history of modernity and show how literature in its representation of mobility simultaneously aims both to mirror and to grasp the phenomenon.
Essays in Critical Plant Studies
Editor: Randy Laist
Myth, art, literature, film, and other discourses are replete with depictions of evil plants, salvific plants, and human-plant hybrids. In various ways, these representations intersect with “deep-rooted” insecurities about the place of human beings in the natural world, the relative viability of animalian motility and heterotrophy as evolutionary strategies, as well as the identity of organic life as such. Plants surprise us by combining the appearance of harmlessness and familiarity with an underlying strangeness. The otherness of vegetal life poses a challenge to our ethical, philosophical, and existential categories and tests the limits of human empathy and imagination. At the same time, the resilience of plants, their adaptability, and their integration with their habitat are a perennial source of inspiration and wisdom. Plants and Literature: Essays in Critical Plant Studies examines the manner in which literary texts and other cultural products express our multifaceted relationship with the vegetable kingdom. The range of perspectives brought to bear on the subject of plant life by the various authors and critics represented in this volume comprise a novel vision of ecological interdependence and stimulate a revitalized sensitivity to the relationships we share with our photosynthetic brethren.
This book psychoanalyzes a small Mexican city to figure out how the city makes sense of both herself and her many Others in the face of constant change. It puts the city on the couch and works through her past and present relationships, analyzing issues surrounding sexuality, the compulsion to repeat, transferences and desires.
Essays on Self and Pilgrimage
Travelling is the art of motion, motion results in moments of human encountering, and such moments manifest themselves in unsettling linguistic repercussions and crises of meaning. Places of arrival also function as inscriptions of such meaningful repercussions, inscriptions of the past crossing the present, of the other crossing the self. The contributions in this book explore places, rituals, texts and scriptures as religious or secular inscriptions – “topographies” – of such “arrivals.”
Each arrival happens, and its very place manifests itself only as a momentous component of the process itself. Arrival is an event of conclusion as well as of urgency for subsequent explorations of new meanings to be read from the topography of the place, mirroring thus a signifying dynamic for the metamorphosis of the traveller’s self: “ topodynamic” of arrival. In this vein this book investigates for the first time the dynamic of cultural formations of space, an aspect of spatiality which since the “spatial turn” in cultural discourse has mostly been neglected.
Cities, Spaces, and Archaeologies of the Future in William Gibson
Author: Karin Hoepker
No Maps for These Territories offers an archaeology of seemingly tried and trusted concepts: cartography, architecture, urban space. While rethinking Michel Foucault’s theories, Karin Hoepker reconstructs the cartographic dispositives of spatial order. The futuristic fictional cityscapes of science fiction writer William Gibson are the touchstone for this epistemological analysis and typology of spatial formations. In seven probing chapters that focus on architectural blueprints, forms of inhabitation, Wunderkammern, and economic formations of retail, consumption, and entertainment such as shopping malls, amusement parks, and gambling meccas, Hoepker investigates a set of exemplary phenomena crucial to the fields of architecture, geography, philosophy, cartography, history of science, literary studies, and the arts. No Maps for These Territories thus offers close readings of fictional, philosophical, and theoretical texts, and examines instructive examples of the workings of spatial production. In a form of contrastive writing, the monograph sheds critical light on theoretical and fictional texts equally.
Editor: Pascale Guibert
Too many landscapes have been reduced to silent commodities by being put into golden frames on top of our fireplaces. Too many landscapes have been reified by being considered as objects holding forth referents to an omnipotent looker-on, with his/her language ever ready to seize and transcribe. The articles gathered here, prolonging an international conference held at the University of Caen Basse-Normandie (France), 14-16 June 2007, set the landscapes loose again by engaging with their essentially relational quality.
What makes this volume particularly stimulating and critically innovative is this initial acknowledgement of a landscape’s reflectiveness – that is the fact that it contains unthought thought, and thus presents itself to us both passively and actively. This straightaway appraisal of the lines of flight in the seemingly static, tranquil images facing us, has opened the way to deeply critical readings bent on questioning old tracks, testing new itineraries, denying the closure of the subject. At the same time, and by way of consequence, it leads us to encounter the force in landscape. A force like an energy, an impetus, which makes it possible – if not advisable! – to still compose, read and enjoy landscapes in the XXIst century.
Poetry and the Victorian Ecological Imagination
Author: John Parham
This book, the first to consider Gerard Manley Hopkins as an ecological writer, explores the dimension that social ecology offers to an ecocriticism hitherto dominated by romantic nature writing.
The case for a ‘green Hopkins’ is made through a paradigm of ‘Victorian Ecology’ that expands the scope of existing studies in Victorian literature and science. Parham argues that Hopkins developed a two-fold understanding of ecology – as a scientific philosophy constructed around ecosystems theory; and as a corresponding theory of society organised around the sustainable use of energy – as well as a corresponding poetic practice. In a radical new reading of the poems, he suggests that Hopkins translated an innovative nature poetry, in which rhythm conveyed a nature characterised by dialectical energy exchange, into a social ‘ecopoetry’ that embodied the environmental impact of Victorian ‘risk’ society on its human population.
Located within a ‘Victorian ecological imagination’ that fused romanticism and pragmatism, the book views Hopkins’ work as indicating the value of reconciling a deep ecological assertion of the intrinsic value of (nonhuman) nature with social ecology’s more pragmatic attempts to critique and re-conceptualise human life.