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Author: Peter Mortensen

Abstract

In this essay, I use two popular early 20th-century novels – Jack London’s The Valley of the Moon (1913) and Knut Hamsun’s The Growth of the Soil (1917) to consider critically the concept of “reinhabitation,” which has long been prominent in contemporary environmentalist discourses. Figuring characters whom depart the industrial city and embrace agricultural work in search of more humanly enjoyable and ecologically sustainable ways of life, these fictions resonate with contemporary calls for a human reorientation to the land. At the same time, however, London and Hamsun’s novels also alert us to the difficulties, contradictions and potential risks involved in the attempt to define precisely what it means to “reinhabit” the earth.

In: Spaces in-between
The concept of framing has long intrigued and troubled scholars in fields including philosophy, rhetoric, media studies and literary criticism. But framing also has rich implications for environmental debate, urging us to reconsider how we understand the relationship between humans and their ecological environment, culture and nature.
The contributors to this wide-ranging volume use the concept of framing to engage with key questions in environmental literature, history, politics, film, TV, and pedagogy. In so doing, they show that framing can serve as a valuable analytical tool connecting different academic discourses within the emergent interdisciplinary field of the environmental humanities. No less importantly, they demonstrate how increased awareness of framing strategies and framing effects can help us move society in a more sustainable direction.
In: Framing the Environmental Humanities
In: Framing the Environmental Humanities
In: Framing the Environmental Humanities

In our introduction, we argued that the essays in this book are linked by a shared interest in how nature is framed – that is to say, in the ways in which different cultural and linguistic traditions, narratives, technologies, media, or institutions, shape how people perceive and interact with nature. As any reader who takes a closer look at the chapters will quickly recognize, this is itself a rather broad way of framing them – and one that may seem intent on disavowing their striking heterogeneity. In closing this volume, we should therefore emphasize that we do not consider this heterogeneity to be something that ought to be dissembled, in the first place, as it is no more than an accurate (albeit partial) reflection of the different approaches and conceptual vocabularies employed across the environmental humanities – differences that obtain no less between academic disciplines than between national or institutional traditions. What counts as good scholarly practice is not the same in ecocriticism and environmental history; and environmental history in Estonia is not the same as environmental history in Australia.

In: Framing the Environmental Humanities

“There is no natural frame,” Derrida notes in his essay on the “The Parergon” (: 39). In his argument, the frame is a figure that troubles the conceptual schemata which organize the discourse of aesthetics – a discourse which must, in order to move forward, presuppose a clear distinction between form and matter, between the example and that which it exemplifies, between the work itself and the medium in which it appears, between what is proper to it and what is not. The frame confounds these distinctions: it is not part of the work itself, but neither can it be merely an indifferent part of the environing “milieu,” because if it were, it would not be able to fulfil the essential task of setting the work apart. Marking the boundary between the inside and the outside, it does not have a proper place: “In relation to the work, […] it disappears into the wall and then, by degrees, into the general context. In relation to the general context, it disappears into the work […].” (: 24) The frame is neither matter nor form – but one can trace its effects where the material intrudes on the form; it “warps,” Derrida writes, “[l]ike wood”: “It splits, breaks down, breaks up, at the same time that it cooperates in the production of the product, it exceeds it and deducts itself. It never simply exposes itself” (: 35).

In: Framing the Environmental Humanities
In: Framing the Environmental Humanities