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Pippa Marland

Abstract

Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran diptych takes the reader on a journey that first circumnavigates the coast and then delves into the interior of the island of Árainn, the largest of the Irish Aran islands. In its sustained focus and wealth of detail it represents an extraordinary piece of landscape-writing. At the heart of the work is the motif of the “good step,” an image Robinson uses to explore human “dwelling,” and of particular significance is his insistence on the spatiotemporal frames he uses to discuss that step. He proposes that we hold in our minds, as the ultimate contexts for all the other spans of space and time that occur in the narrative, the beginning of time and the horizon of the visible universe. In its reading of Stones of Aran, this chapter explores the implications for ecocriticism of Robinson’s expansive framework, assessing this in terms of recent concepts such as Timothy Clark’s “derangements of scale,” Ursula Heise’s “eco-cosmopolitanism” and Timothy Morton’s “thinking big.” It suggests that Robinson’s cosmic framing might potentially assist us in making sense of the kind of scales involved in the consideration of contemporary environmental issues, but that at the same time it also works to diminish our sense of the importance of the human species, ultimately and perhaps paradoxically focusing renewed – but valuably deterritorialised – attention on the “segment of home-planet” we each inhabit.

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Morten Tønnessen

Abstract

Inspired by Arran Stibbe and drawing on ecolinguistics, corpus linguistics and Critical Discourse Analysis, this chapter presents a simple linguistic study of mentions of animals in Norwegian political party programs for the parliamentary term 2013–2017. The study is likely symptomatic of quite common attitudes to animals not only in Norway but also in a range of other countries. It documents a near-universal anthropocentric bias in Norwegian political party programs, with the Green Party as the only possible exception. This bias is particularly visible in the vocabulary constituted by occurrences of the morphemes “fisk” [fish] and “rein” [reindeer]. Rather than being framed as sentient beings, these animals are almost exclusively referred to in terms of economic resources that are to be managed by the authorities.

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Ottoaleksi Tähkäpää and Simo Laakkonen

Abstract

The Cold War era witnessed not only the rise of television as the leading mass media format throughout the industrialized world but also the surge of the environment as a major societal issue, both locally and internationally. According to the general consensus, television played an important role in initiating public discussion on and raising awareness of environmental issues in Western Europe, whereas in Eastern Europe, environmental protection is usually perceived as having been a top-down process subordinated to other political goals perceived as more pressing. Yet despite these prevailing preconceptions, surprisingly little is actually known about televised coverage of environmental issues on either side of the Iron Curtain. This comparative case study of Finnish and Estonian television aims to provide empirical evidence and novel perspectives on environmental television reporting in Eastern and Western Europe. When did environmental television reporting begin, how did it differ on either side of the Iron Curtain, and is the image such a juxtaposition yields as black-and-white as is commonly assumed?

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Michael Egan

Abstract

We live in a Toxic Century. While we cannot see it, each of us is a walking, breathing artifact of humanity’s toxic trespasses into nature. Sociological findings suggest that toxic chemicals scare human beings in new and special ways. This has more to do with what we do not know about their danger than what we do know, and those unknowns strike at the epicentre of how fear is individually and culturally manifested. The method through which persistent organic pollutants assault human and environmental health, the manner in which they proliferated after World War ii, and the unanticipated consequences of their spread are key characteristics of this new landscape of fear. Persistent organic pollutants contaminate rather than merely damage; their pollution penetrates human tissue indirectly rather than attacking the surface in a more straightforward manner; and the threat from exposure is not acute, but rather slow, chronic, and enduring. That we lack a full understanding of the hazards they pose and have little control over their environmental mobility distinguishes chemical toxins. As a result, a culture of fear associated with new toxins is an explicit and unmistakable feature of the post-World War ii world.

This paper examines the rise of toxic fear in the American 1980s, a decade punctuated by a series of environmental crises and explicit fears about chemical pollution, both within the United States and internationally. I examine the politics of uncertainty and point to the 1980s as a watershed moment in our contemporary understanding of toxic fear.

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David Ingram

Abstract

Following the approach popularised by David Bordwell and Noël Carroll, cognitivist film theorist Joseph D. Anderson proposes an ‘ecology of the arts’ that has no place for the ‘Grand Theory’ of Marxism and psychoanalysis. His argument is scientistic, in the sense that he both exaggerates the scientific status of his own approach, particularly its basis in evolutionary psychology, and dismisses humanistic approaches to film as unscientific and therefore worthless. However, despite reservations about the application of evolutionary psychology to film studies, the recent turn to a bioculturalist paradigm can be seen as a promising new direction for the discipline. Yet the question remains as to how compatible the bioculturalist paradigm is with so-called Grand Theory. Anderson and Torben Grodal criticise humanistic approaches such as Marxism and psychoanalysis that are concerned with the social and political dimensions of film. Though some of this criticism is well founded, a properly holistic approach to cinema will necessarily include thematic interpretation and attention to signification more generally. Textual hermeneutics, including the allegorical, thematic and ideological analyses derived from revised forms of psychoanalysis and Marxism, will thus remain an important part of a broadly inclusive, ecocritical approach to film.

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Petr Kopecký

Abstract

This chapter addresses the reception of the works of two California authors, Robinson Jeffers and John Steinbeck, in communist Czechoslovakia (1948–1989), where they both enjoyed immense popularity. Its primary focus is on selected nature images, namely trees, rocks, and the ocean. I discuss the associations and meanings these images acquired after they were transplanted from the United States to communist Czechoslovakia through high-quality translations. The different political environment into which the literary texts were introduced affected their reading in ways that even the authors could hardly have anticipated. The new associations and interpretations, determined largely by ideological factors, thus receive considerable attention in the present study.

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Axel Goodbody

Abstract

This essay is part of a wider project exploring the ability of frame analysis to serve as a common methodology for the description and analysis of oral, media, historical and literary stories about energy, in the context of today’s transition to renewables. Taking as starting point the typology of frames in Gamson/Modigliani (1989), it applies the theory and methodology of framing to three literary texts depicting and reflecting on our changing use of energy. The first is Jim Crace’s recent historical novel, Harvest (2013), which tells the story of Britain’s agricultural enclosures; the second Charles Dickens’s classic depiction of the Industrial Revolution, Hard Times (1854). The third novel, which is examined in greater depth, is Ian McEwan’s account of the challenge posed by the transition to renewable energy today in Solar (2010). Sensitivity is demanded in approaching narrative strategies which can involve multiple, conflicting framings and merely implicit narrative perspectives. However, a focus on framing can, it is argued, foreground neglected aspects of literary narration, and give insights into the part played by literature and imagination in energy debates.

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Edited by Hannes Bergthaller and Peter Mortensen

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Roman Bartosch

Abstract

This essay argues for an ecocritical educational approach informed by and thriving on the tensions and ambiguities produced by textual engagements with nature and nonhuman beings and suggests the concept of ‘framing’ as a productive element of a more general environmental teaching methodology. Outlining the different levels on which framing as a conceptual and interpretive tool can be applied in an analysis of Neill Blomkamp’s 2009 film District 9, the film and a selection of educational implications will be discussed in the context of intercultural competence and what is described in this essay as ‘transcultural ecology.’ The suggestions apply both to university-level classes on transculturality and ecology and to secondary level efl classes at school for which the tasks described in this essay will have to be slightly adjusted in terms of demands of complexity.

Series:

Viðar Hreinsson

Abstract

The meaning and usage of the word nature in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance was qualitative rather than quantitative and objectifying. The qualitative meaning of the word is reflected in the ideas and works of the 17th century Icelander Jón Guðmundsson the learned (1574–1658). He was a self-educated farmer and fisherman as well as a poet, scholar and artist who led a rough life due to his critical writings and occult activities. A pioneer in Icelandic literary history, he was the first to write a critical account of contemporary events and the first to write a description of Icelandic nature in Icelandic. In some of his poetry and especially in his later writings, he articulates a conception of nature which is fascinated by organic diversity and stands in sharp contrast to the then-ascendant tendency to frame nature as object.