Plants and Literature

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.
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Biographical Note

Randy Laist is Associate Professor of English at Goodwin College. He is the author of Technology and Postmodern Subjectivity in Don DeLillo’s Novels and the editor of Looking for Lost : Critical Essays on the Enigmatic Series. He has also published dozens of articles on literature, film, and pedagogy.

Table of contents

Randy Laist: Introduction
Betsy Winakur Tontiplaphol: The Progress of Vegetation: Subversion and Vegetarianism in Mansfield Park
Lynne Feeley: Plants and the Problem of Authority in the Antebellum U.S. South
Akemi Yoshida: Temptation of Fruit: The Symbolism of Fruit in Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” and in the Works of D. G. Rossetti and J. E. Millais
Graham Culbertson: This is Your Brain on Wheat: The Psychology of the Speculator in Frank Norris’ The Pit
Stacey Artman: Refusing Form: A Reading of Art, Americanism, and Feminism through Plant Imagery in Susan Glaspell’s The Verge
Ria Banerjee: Surviving the City: Resistance and Plant Life in Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and Barnes’ Nightwood
Ubaraj Katawal: The Smell of Cottonwood Leaves: Plants and Tayo’s Healing in Silko’s Ceremony
Rhona Trauvitch: The Bible’s Paradise and Oryx and Crake’s Paradice: A Comparison of the Relationships Between Humans and Nature
Charlotte Pylyser: Iconic/Ironic Greenery: The Cultural Cultivation of Plants in Brecht Evens’ The Making Of
Stephanie Lim: A Return to Transcendentalism in the Twentieth Century: Emerging Plant-Sympathy in The Little Shop of Horrors
Hindi Krinsky: Mean Green Machine: How the Ecological Politics of Alan Moore’s Reimagination of Swamp Thing Brought Eco-consciousness to Comics
Aubrey Streit Krug: Reproducing Plant Bodies on the Great Plains


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