Ecocriticism and Christian Literary Scholarship

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


This essay presents a case for ecocriticism as a viable critical method for Christian scholars. It begins with an historical overview of the method, then examines common ground shared by ecocriticism and Christianity, including what amounts to a kind of critical realism, and the belief in the inherent goodness of creation. Two potential obstacles are then addressed by way of Lynn White, Jr's famous essay, “The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis.” These include the relationship of the Bible and the environment, and the charge of anthropocentrism. I believe White is partly right, but contend that neither objection is fatal for Christian scholars who wish to employ ecocriticism.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Two of them, which are presented as 'on-going' during the Moscow conference (2012) The first essay by Bernard Flusin ('L'hagiographie byzantine et la recherche: tendances actuelles', pp. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] aims at mapping out the history of Byzantine hagiographical scholarship. Flusin makes a distinction between two opposing approaches: the religious and the secular, favouring the first. ...
... Moreover, Cheryll Glotfelty and her associates founded the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) in 1992; besides, in 1993, the same Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) started to publish a new journal entitled ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (Issitt, 2015). Cheryll Glotfelty edited The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology together with Harold Fromm in 1996; the Modern Language Association has organized various panels; a journal entitled The Electronic Green Journal was published, and successively, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment was established (Burbery, 2012). ...
Full-text available
The aim and scope of this research was to discover the games appreciated by Turkish Sephardic, American Sephardic and Turkish Muslim female children in the 1950s, their environmental teachings, and transnationalism. Old people teach children games, which can also be transnational and narrated in other countries. Oral history interviews were conducted with these three groups of women, and they were asked about the metaphors in their childhood games. These informal chats also led to the discovery of some games played by female children. Similarities of these metaphors were used to suggest a peace building theory based on environmental humanities. Accordingly, the metaphorical concepts in female children’s games were analyzed through the conceptual metaphor theory developed by Lakoff and Johnson (1980) for deciphering their environmentalist teachings and their impacts on the formation of children. As the transnational nature of games makes one understand that children would play together regardless of their creed and ethnicity in the 1950s, such games are recommended to be taught to today’s children who rarely play games outside their houses with other children. As a result of this study, it was found that conceptual metaphors based on the protection of the environment were similar in certain games regardless of children’s cultural backgrounds. The conceptual metaphors of “NATURE IS A MOTHER,” “ANIMALS ARE LOVE,” and “NATURE IS A SHELTER” were commonly used in these children’s games, and these similarities should be taught children by encouraging them to recognize and adapt the concept of unity in diversity. Consequently, the crimes committed by children against animals should be prevented, and children should learn the ways to preserve the environment and nature easily without damaging any plants or animals. It is crucial to teach children similar games with similar elements are played in different parts of the world. In these games, similar environmental, educative, and metaphorical objects and word games may also be used.
In this paper it is argued that Christian poetry of the seventeenth century, specifically that of John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell can be used in the English classrooms of Protestant colleges in order to introduce students studying Bible and theology to the notion that theology can and should be environmentally minded.
Examines the rise of eco churches and eco synagogues as practical responses to criticisms levied in the 20th century by writers such as Lynn White, Jr. and Andrew Furman. "Tahlee Centre for creation care" in NSW, Australia, and Finchley Progressive Synagogue, London, provide eco critical case studies for interpreting religious text and environmental action. The chapter engages in the "rapprochement between ecocriticism and environmental communication studies" in its examination of the Jewish contributions (or otherwise) of eco Hollywood.
The link between narrative and eschatology lies in their both dealing with “last things.” Ricoeur’s dictum that “the possible precedes the actual and clears the way for it” provides a powerful mandate for writers concerned with the danger of ecological endings. The endings of the novels in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy not only articulate contemporary ecological sensibilities, but also, and more surprisingly, provide space for a religious way forward. Atwood’s recent connection to the Christian environmentalist group A Rocha presents a powerful instance of the possibilities for cooperation between agnostics and Christians in terms of hope for the planet.
Christian literary scholars and ecocritics have generally not engaged each other in sustained and productive conversation. This article therefore updates and extends Timothy J. Burbery’s 2012 call for a Christian ecocriticism by showing that ecocriticism’s recent postcolonial turn has opened new opportunities for Christian literary scholars. Ecocriticism’s heightened attention to ways that environmental problems threaten the lives and livelihoods of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people provides an opportunity for Christians to become involved in both the scholarly project of ecocriticism and in the work of advancing global environmental justice. The author holds out hope that a rigorous Christian ecocriticism could pave the way for a potent new Christian environmentalism.
As interest in environmental issues grows, many writers of fiction have embraced themes that explore the connections between humans and the natural world. Ecologically themed fiction ranges from profound philosophical meditations to action-packed entertainments. Where the Wild Books Are offers an overview of nearly 2,000 works of nature-oriented fiction. The author includes a discussion of the precursors and history of the genre, and of its expansion since the 1970s. He also considers its forms and themes, as well as the subgenres into which it has evolved, such as speculative fiction, ecodefense, animal stories, mysteries, ecofeminist novels, cautionary tales, and others. A brief summary and critical commentary of each title is included. Dwyer's scope is broad and covers fiction by Native American writers as well as ecofiction from writers around the world. Far more than a mere listing of books, Where the Wild Books Are is a lively introduction to a vast universe of engaging, provocative writing. It can be used to develop book collections or curricula. It also serves as an introduction to one of the most fertile areas of contemporary fiction, presenting books that will offer enjoyable reading and new insights into the vexing environmental questions of our time.
The remarkable breadth of C. S. Lewis's (1898-1963) work is nearly as legendary as the fantastical tales he so inventively crafted. A variety of themes emerge in his literary output, which spans the genres of nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, and children's literature, but much of the scholarship examining his work focuses on religion or philosophy. Overshadowed are Lewis's views on nature and his concern for environmental stewardship, which are present in most of his work. In Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis, authors Matthew Dickerson and David O'Hara illuminate this important yet overlooked aspect of the author's visionary work. Dickerson and O'Hara go beyond traditional theological discussions of Lewis's writing to investigate themes of sustainability, stewardship of natural resources, and humanity's relationship to wilderness. The authors examine the environmental and ecological underpinnings of Lewis's work by exploring his best-known works of fantasy, including the seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three novels collectively referred to as the Space Trilogy. Taken together, these works reveal Lewis's enduring environmental concerns, and Dickerson and O'Hara offer a new understanding of his pioneering style of fiction. An avid outdoorsman, Lewis deftly combined an active imagination with a deep appreciation for the natural world. Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, the first book-length work on the subject, explores the marriage of Lewis's environmental passion with his skill as a novelist and finds the author's legacy to have as much in common with the agrarian environmentalism of Wendell Berry as it does with the fantasy of J. R. R. Tolkien. In an era of increasing concern about deforestation, climate change, and other environmental issues, Lewis's work remains as pertinent as ever. The widespread adaption of his work in film lends credence to the author's staying power as an influential voice in both fantastical fiction and environmental literature. With Narnia and the Fields of Arbol, Dickerson and O'Hara have written a timely work of scholarship that offers a fresh perspective on one of the most celebrated authors in literary history. Copyright © 2009 by The University Press of Kentucky. All rights reserved.
Since colonial times, the sense of encountering an unseen, transcendental Presence within the natural world has been a characteristic motif in American literature and culture. In this book, the author suggests that the religious import of environmental literature has yet to be fully recognized or understood. Whatever their theology, American writers have perennially construed the nonhuman world to be a source, in Rachel Carson's words, of "something that takes us out of ourselves."Reflecting recent practice of "ecocriticism," Making Nature Sacred explores how the quest for natural revelation has been pursued through successive phases of American literary and intellectual history. And it shows how the imaginative challenge of "reading" landscapes has been influenced by biblical hermeneutics. Though focused on adaptations of Judeo-Christian tradition that view nature as religiously iconic, it also samples Native American, African American, and Buddhist forms of ecospirituality. It begins with Colonial New England writers such Anne Bradstreet and Jonathan Edwards, re-examines pivotal figures such as Henry Thoreau and John Muir, and takes account of writings by Mary Austin, Rachel Carson, and many others along the way. The book concludes with an assessment of the "spiritual renaissance" underway in current environmental writing. Such writing is represented by prose writers such as Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, John Cheever, Marilynne Robinson, Peter Matthiessen, and Barry Lopez; and by noteworthy poets including Patiann Rogers, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, and Denise Levertov. American writers testify overall that our ecological predicament must be understood not merely as a technical challenge, but as a genuine crisis of spirit and imagination.
Many readers drawn into the heroic tales of J. R. R. Tolkien's imaginary world of Middle-earth have given little conscious thought to the importance of the land itself in his stories or to the vital roles played by the flora and fauna of that land. As a result, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion are rarely considered to be works of environmental literature or mentioned together with such authors as John Muir, Rachel Carson, or Aldo Leopold. Tolkien's works do not express an activist agenda; instead, his environmentalism is expressed in the form of literary fiction. Nonetheless, Tolkien's vision of nature is as passionate and has had as profound an influence on his readers as that of many contemporary environmental writers. The burgeoning field of agrarianism provides new insights into Tolkien's view of the natural world and environmental responsibility. In Ents, Elves, and Eriador, Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans show how Tolkien anticipated some of the tenets of modern environmentalism in the imagined world of Middle-earth and the races with which it is peopled. The philosophical foundations that define Tolkien's environmentalism, as well as the practical outworking of these philosophies, are found throughout his work. Agrarianism is evident in the pastoral lifestyle and sustainable agriculture of the Hobbits, as they harmoniously cultivate the land for food and goods. The Elves practice aesthetic, sustainable horticulture as they shape their forest environs into an elaborate garden. To complete Tolkien's vision, the Ents of Fangorn Forest represent what Dickerson and Evans label feraculture, which seeks to preserve wilderness in its natural form. Unlike the Entwives, who are described as cultivating food in tame gardens, the Ents risk eventual extinction for their beliefs. These ecological philosophies reflect an aspect of Christian stewardship rooted in Tolkien's Catholic faith. Dickerson and Evans define it as "stewardship of the kind modeled by Gandalf," a stewardship that nurtures the land rather than exploiting its life-sustaining capacities to the point of exhaustion. Gandalfian stewardship is at odds with the forces of greed exemplified by Sauron and Saruman, who, with their lust for power, ruin the land they inhabit, serving as a dire warning of what comes to pass when stewardly care is corrupted or ignored. Dickerson and Evans examine Tolkien's major works as well as his lesser-known stories and essays, comparing his writing to that of the most important naturalists of the past century. A vital contribution to environmental literature and an essential addition to Tolkien scholarship, Ents, Elves, and Eriador offers both Tolkien fans and environmentalists an understanding of Middle-earth that has profound implications for environmental stewardship in the present and the future of our own world. Copyright © 2006 by The University Press of Kentucky. All rights reserved.
Plath demonstrates a combined interest in the texture of the natural world and the texture of language, which in her poems enacts and does not merely represent that world. Her unfortunate categorization as a “confessional” poet as well as critics’ obsession with her biography have resulted in, on one hand, an underestimation of Plath’s engagement with the “real world” beyond her subjectivity, and on the other hand, an insufficient consideration of the craft and formal properties of her poems. She was, from an early age, drawn to the natural world, although she was equally fascinated by the sounds of language. Plath’s sense of irony and linguistic awareness, that is, puts her in a different category from that of a mere nature lover. Her poetry derives its power from the generative friction between speakers and a nonhuman world that resists figurative appropriation. For Plath, this resistance is itself to be figured forth, creating the formal reverberations with which her poems still startle us.
The first few frames of the Belgian comic-strip artist Raymond Macherot's work “Les Croquillards” (1957) provide a shorthand for some of the issues that concern environmentally oriented criticism, one of the most recent fields of research to have emerged from the rapidly diversifying matrix of literary and cultural studies in the 1990s. A heron is prompted to a lyrical reflection on the change of seasons by a leaf that gently floats down to the surface of his pond (see the next p.): “Ah! the poetry of autumn … dying leaves, wind, departing birds…” This last thought jolts him back to reality: “But—I'm a migratory bird myself! … Good grief! What've I been thinking?” And off he takes on his voyage south, only to be hailed by the protagonists, the field rats Chlorophylle and Minimum (the latter under the spell of a bad cold), who hitch a ride to Africa with him. “Are you traveling on business?” he asks his newfound passengers. “No, for our health,” they answer.
Stefan Ruzowitzky's recent horror film Anatomie explores the fictional premise that underneath the democratic surface of contemporary Germany, and within its technocratic elites, traces of the country's fascist past still linger. However, Anatomie mobilizes this version of the historical uncanny only insofar as the film is marketed to an audience in the global marketplace, predominantly in the U. S. While the film plays to this audience's anxieties stemming from Germany's unsurmounted Nazi past, it articulates anxieties for its German audience that are specific to contemporary processes of socioeconomic restructuring and generational change. Central to these anxieties are the backlash against 1960s oppositional politics and its perceived mainstreaming, and the destabilization of social equality and middle-class prerogatives as a result of market deregulation.
The Chaucer Review 39.1 (2004) 1-16 At the end of her best-selling novel Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver adjusts the relation that would see things as an "I" and a "thou," or even as Man and Nature. Imagining a hunter silently watching a coyote loping through the forest, Kingsolver pictures for a moment the hunter's sense that he and the animal comprise, however briefly, all there is. But, she says, "He would have been wrong. Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end." The important, ethical, or even right relation, Kingsolver suggests, is the web; all actions have consequences, however invisible, on the web of life, and it is only through our human presumption that we can imagine ourselves separate from it. Kingsolver's novel, which appeared in 2000, stakes out an important place in American fiction as a bestseller whose ethics and erotics reside in environmental relations. In this love story, the relationships that characters develop with each other are shaped by the relationships they hold with the natural world: the wilderness and its troubling predators (coyote), or farms and gardens with their competing insect life. Her central metaphor for this set of responsibilities and interactions, the "web pulling mate to mate," is a term with a rich set of resonances. Bespeaking the fragility and interconnectedness of the natural world, the image of the web is one of the most central—and by now prosaic—images to define both the modern and postmodern conditions. The web articulates globalism on many levels. A synonym, of course, for the internet, it also gives concrete form to chaos theory, whose classic example of invisible subatomic quivering and response is the so-called butterfly effect, whereby the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. A key term in ecocriticism, the web also implies human accountability; since all things are physically interrelated, humans are at least partially responsible for environmental change—even if they cannot see the etiology that links cause and effect. As a fictional work that voices the increasingly urgent concerns of the environmental movement, Prodigal Summer can also serve as a contemporary lens through which to explore ethical relations binding human interests and desires to the nonhuman living world in earlier writings, and specifically in Chaucer. How does Chaucer position nature in relation to human agency? Does nature in Chaucer's poetry engage characters in relationships of custodial responsibility or stewardship? Nature in Middle English often describes a force for generation or desire: "so priketh hem Nature in hir corages." An agent with effects on the will, the emotions, or the body, nature acts on people. Does nature in this form, I will ask, make demands for reciprocal attention or care? In exploring Chaucer's representation of ethical custodianship of the natural world, this essay also examines the rhetorical terms with which Chaucer links the nonhuman living world, or what we today would call the natural world, to the human. How does Chaucer use metaphor, the central poetic trope by which writers explore relationships among things, to represent nature? More particularly, how does Chaucer, through metaphor, relate terms from the nonhuman living world (such as flowers or animals) to people? By examining Nature as personified force and nature as a class of things linked rhetorically to human qualities, this essay seeks to engage in dialogue with ethical concerns of ecocriticism and to situate Chaucer within an important critical dialogue that has paid, to date, little attention to premodern texts. Before exploring Chaucerian nature, I would like to sketch some of the mandates of ecocriticism, whose primary interests lie in ways that texts represent relationships of domination and subjection between humans and nonhuman life; how do writers represent the design and control of the web that links living and nonliving things? As Kingsolver invokes the metaphor of the web in Prodigal Summer, she seems uncertain about the importance...
"The impossible task of the ecopoet," Jonathan Bate starkly asserts in The Song of the Earth, "is to speak the silence of the place," although in making this claim he simultaneously allows for some flexibility in his position by offering Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" as an example of a text that comes as "close as any poem has ever reached to such a speaking" (151). My own example of such a text, which I discuss in detail at the outset of my essay, is Wallace Stevens's "The Snow Man," a poem in which, as I see it, Stevens speaks the silence of the snow man and its place precisely by acknowledging, in his language, the impossibility of doing so. My essay's overall aim, then, is to consider the ways in which Bate's "impossible task" is brought to consciousness, expressed, and overcome or otherwise dealt with, in the work of a number of 19th and 20th century American poets and nature writers (including Emerson, Thoreau, William Cullen Bryant, Whitman, Richard Wilbur, Edward Abbey, and Wendell Berry), and I am particularly interested in the textual means by which the paradoxical notion of what I call "ecocentric discourse" is constructed or fabricated (as it must be) in the work of writers who intuitively realize that speaking silence demands a movement beyond the norms of conventional speech.
For all of our good words, good works, and best intentions, what ecocritical scholars value seems radically at odds with what policy-makers seem to value, and we've got to wonder at some point if we are really making a whit of difference. We realize the relative value of ourselves as scholars when a person like George W. Bush can have such a potentially devastating effect on the environment by pulling the U.S. out of the Kyoto Accord and, despite repeated rejections from the U.S. Senate, announcing in early February 2004 that he will pressure the U.S. Congress to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife refuge to drilling by oil companies. Moreover, we realize that if ecocriticism is to have any effect outside of the narrow confines of academia, then it must not only define itself but also address the issue of values in ways that connect meaningfully with the non-academic world. In terms of theory, it is going to have to stop running and hiding for fear of being rendered hopeless as a political engine. Since 1996, ecocriticism has burgeoned into a huge discipline with many practitioners and followers. The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) began in 1992 in the U.S. under the founding principle of inclusivity, and the association has since expanded to include branches in the UK, Korea, Japan, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada, too, recently joined the club with its version of ASLE called ALECC (The Association for Literature, the Environment, and Culture in Canada / Association pour la littérature, l'environnement, et la culture au Canada). Embracing inclusivity, ASLE seeks all possible connections, as does ecocriticism, so much so, in fact, that it is sometimes difficult to tell where ecocriticism ends and nature studies begins. However, the two disciplines do differ in their commitment to praxis. As I have stated elsewhere (see my "Report Card"), ecocriticism has distinguished itself, debates notwithstanding, first by its ethical stance of 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. Like the feminist criticism with which it is often allied, ecocriticism maintains an ethical commitment that also implies a commitment to praxis and to direct effects upon the material world. Unlike feminist criticism, however, ecocriticism has not been adequately theorized; as Lawrence Buell claimed in 1999, "ecocriticism still lacks a paradigm-inaugurating statement like Edward Said's Orientalism (for colonial discourse studies) or Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning (for new historicism)" ("Letter" 1091). While Buell sees this as a potential strength, perhaps what we might call the strategic intangibility that defined and bolstered ecocriticism's inclusivity principle in the late 1990s is counterproductive now and actually threatens to undo ecocriticism. We still seem to be in this phase of strategic intangibility, and perhaps it is time to get beyond it. Possibly one way of doing this is by drawing some distinctions between feminist ecocriticism and ecofeminism and by resisting wholesale inclusion under the sign of ecocriticism. One of the dangers, of course, is that we will start "spinning off into obscurantism or idiosyncrasy" (Tallmadge et al. xv) or that we will fall under a spell of "mesmerization by literary theory" (Buell, Environmental Imagination 111). Canada, despite lacking a long ASLE history, has been especially prolific in the area of a clearly feminist ecocriticism, with women such as Pamela Banting, Catriona Sandilands, and Diana Relke perhaps its best representatives. Still, even among the foremost scholars in the field, whether American or Canadian, though there is a clearly implied intuitive recognition of Ynestra King's claim that "the hatred of women and the hatred of nature are intimately connected and mutually reinforcing" ("Toward" 118), there is little theoretical distinction between ecofeminism and feminist ecocriticism; yet, the two fields each have a very different focus. Granting that there are ecofeminisms and ecocriticisms, we might venture some broad generalizations about the two spheres of investigation. Why there has been little time and effort (relative to the efforts exerted...
With the environmental crisis comes a crisis of the imagination, a need to find new ways to understand nature and humanity's relation to it. This is the challenge Lawrence Buell takes up in The Environmental Imagination , the most ambitious study to date of how literature represents the natural environment. With Thoreau's Walden as a touchstone, Buell gives us a far-reaching account of environmental perception, the place of nature in the history of western thought, and the consequences for literary scholarship of attempting to imagine a more "ecocentric" way of being. In doing so, he provides a major new understanding of Thoreau's achievement and, at the same time, a profound rethinking of our literary and cultural reflections on nature. The green tradition in American writing commands Buell's special attention, particularly environmental nonfiction from colonial times to the present. In works by writers from Crevecoeur to Wendell Berry, John Muir to Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson to Leslie Silko, Mary Austin to Edward Abbey, he examines enduring environmental themes such as the dream of relinquishment, the personification of the nonhuman, an attentiveness to environmental cycles, a devotion to place, and a prophetic awareness of possible ecocatastrophe. At the center of this study we find an image of Walden as a quest for greater environmental awareness, an impetus and guide for Buell as he develops a new vision of environmental writing and seeks a new way of conceiving the relation between human imagination and environmental actuality in the age of industrialization. Intricate and challenging in its arguments, yet engagingly and elegantly written, The Environmental Imagination is a major work of scholarship, one that establishes a new basis for reading American nature writing. Table of Contents: Abbreviations Introduction PART 1: Historical and Theoretical Contexts 1. Pastoral Ideology 2. New World Dreams and Environmental Actualities 3. Representing the Environment 4. Walden's Environmental Projects PART 2: Forms of Literary Ecocentrism 5. The Aesthetics of Relinquishment 6. Nature's Personhood 7. Nature's Face, Mind's Eye: Realizing the Seasons 8. Place 9. Environmental Apocalypticism PART 3: Environmental Sainthood 10. The Thoreauvian Pilgrimage 11. The Canonization and Recanonization of the Green Thoreau 12. Text as Testament: Reading Walden for the Author Appendix Nature's Genres: Environmental Nonfiction at the Time of Thoreau's Emergence Notes Acknowledgments Index Reviews of this book: Literature generally defines itself as that realm of higher culture freed from both the sloppy nostalgia of nature lovers and the fact-bound objectivity of science. The resulting paradox gives Lawrence Buell his subject: nature writing survives in American literary and cultural studies as an 'enclave canon,' widely ignored even as the idea of nature is acknowledged to be formative to American culture and central to at least one canonical writer, Henry David Thoreau. In this fine book, Buell uses Thoreau's position at the crux of this paradox to argue for the return of nature to literary criticism and theory...Buell's excellent book is essential reading that for years to come will provide a central point of reference in discussions of Thoreau, environmental writing, and realist aesthetics. --Laura Dassow Walls, Isis Reviews of this book: The Environmental Imagination has become a standard work on the subject, and a pioneering example of what is being called 'ecocriticism.' --Jay Parini, New York Times Magazine Reviews of this book: [A] remarkable book...Building upon and brilliantly extending the new ecocriticism, Buell has made the most of Thoreau as cultural icon as well as major literary and intellectual figure, in the process raising the stakes and broadening the responsibilities of Thoreau scholarship and criticism. --William Rossi, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance Reviews of this book: Lawrence Buell has undertaken a heroic task: to reorient the understanding of American literature and culture towards 'ecocentrism'; that is, to place the environment (and not simply humans within the environment) at the center of American literary studies. Further, its concern for 'the literal environment as opposed to the environment as a cultural symbol,' The Environmental Imagination is a respectful effort to supplement if not displace Leo Marx's The Machine in the Garden in American studies. Buell carries out his tasks largely by examining the implications of Walden on literature and environmental consciousness in the United States...That The Environmental Imagination can be deciphered by a lay reader is a tribute to a thesis that is both comprehensible and worth learning about. --Charles A. Miller, New England Quarterly Reviews of this book: A groundbreaking study...It is at once comprehensive, the bibliography alone comprising almost 140 pages of detailed notes; urgent, pressing upon our own imagination the real consequences of literary conventions of representing nature; and controversial, insightfully critiquing various cherished cows of contemporary literary theory... The Environmental Imagination is sure to be a standard reference for scholars of both Thoreau and the tradition of American nature writing. --Robert Anderson, Growth and Change Reviews of this book: Lawrence Buell's The Environmental Imagination is among the first ambitious and comprehensive attempts to define ecocriticism and establish its central issues and the mainstream of its tradition--at least, for Buell, in America. In that respect, it resembles some of the seminal works in women's studies, as a book that both argues for the legitimacy of its subject and reveals how it has a history, a solid tradition, that parallels the ones long-since established in the mainstream genres... The Environmental Imagination ...will play a central role in establishing literary ecocriticim as a major field and will assume a place as one of that field's canonical texts...Its argument will rightly be acknowledged in all serious treatments of American nature writing from this point forward. --Frederick W. Shilstone, South Carolina Review
This paper appeared, subsequent to peer review and by Cambridge University Press, in Journal, 2001; 35(3), pp. 413-431. © 2001 Cambridge University Press. Nearly every handbook of critical theory acknowledges Kenneth Burke (1897–1993) to be the twentieth-century North American critic who was most ahead of his time. Yet he seems to have been so ambitious that we still do not know how to place him. Indeed, it would require the space of a whole book to trace the extensive but scarcely documented impact which he has had. Concepts for which many other critics became famous may be traced back to him: ‘‘the order of words’’ (Frye); ‘‘the rhetoric of fiction’’ (Booth); ‘‘blindness and insight’’ (De Man); ‘‘narrative as a socially symbolic act’’ (Jameson); ‘‘the anxiety of influence’’ (Bloom). Indeed, it may well be that very anxiety which has led so many contemporary critics to repress his memory. But there is a change in the critical climate, corresponding to the global. This article is written in the hope that Burke will shortly be recognized as the first critic systematically to analyse culture and literature from an ecological perspective. As the dating of our epigraph indicates, he initiated this project over half a century before the rise of ecocriticism in the United States. Moreover, this was no passing phase for him; his whole career may be understood as a profound experiment in green thinking.
Pioneer of Ecocriticism
  • See Coupe
  • Kenneth Burke
See Coupe, "Kenneth Burke: Pioneer of Ecocriticism;' Journal of American Studies 35.3 (200 1 ): 413-31.
Continuing the Conversation
  • White
White, "Continuing the Conversation;' in Ian G. Barbour, ed., Western Man and Environmental Ethics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1973), 60. 17
The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry
  • Wendell Berry
Berry, Wendell. The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2002.
The Environmental Vision of]. R. R. Tolkien (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2006); and Dickerson and David O'Hara, Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of
  • Matthew Dickerson
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Ents
  • Eriador Elves
Matthew Dickerson and Jonathan Evans, Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of]. R. R. Tolkien (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2006); and Dickerson and David O'Hara, Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: The Environmental Vision of C. S. Lewis (Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2009).
Travelling Beastward': An Ecocritical Reading of George MacDonald's Fairy Tales
  • Bjorn Sundmark
Sundmark, Bjorn. '"Travelling Beastward': An Ecocritical Reading of George MacDonald's Fairy Tales:' North Wind 27 (2008): 1-15.
A Designer Universe?" at the Conference on Cosmic Design, hosted by the American Association of the Advancement of Science Weinberg concludes by denying that the universe is designed. The lecture has been reprinted with permission on the website Physics Link at httpGeocentric Ecocriticism
22 Weinberg's remarks appear in a 1999lecture entitled ''A Designer Universe?" at the Conference on Cosmic Design, hosted by the American Association of the Advancement of Science, in Washington, DC. Weinberg concludes by denying that the universe is designed. The lecture has been reprinted with permission on the website Physics Link at http://www. education/ essay_ weinberg. cfm#l. 23 Wess, "Geocentric Ecocriticism;' New Literary History 10.2 (Summer 2003).
Notable monographs that touch on ecocriticism, albeit briefly, include John Gatta's Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present
  • Rogers
  • Gottlieb
RogerS. Gottlieb (Oxford University Press, 2006): 419-45. Notable monographs that touch on ecocriticism, albeit briefly, include John Gatta's Making Nature Sacred: Literature, Religion, and Environment in America from the Puritans to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2004);
The American Association of the Advancement of Science
  • Steven Weinberg
Weinberg, Steven. ''A Designer Universe?" Conference on Cosmic Design, The American Association of the Advancement of Science. Washington, DC. 1999. Address.
And Erich Isaac has documented considerable damage on the Old World lands meted out by Arab imperialists and on central Burma by Buddhists. See David Livingstone's account of these studies in "Ecomyth #1: The Church is To Blame
And Erich Isaac has documented considerable damage on the Old World lands meted out by Arab imperialists and on central Burma by Buddhists. See David Livingstone's account of these studies in "Ecomyth #1: The Church is To Blame;' Christianity Today, April4, 1994: 24-27.
7he Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary
  • Robert Alter
Alter, Robert. 7he Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. New York: Norton, 2004.
The Ecocriticism Reader, xviii; Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism
  • See Glotfelty
  • Fromm
See Glotfelty and Fromm, The Ecocriticism Reader, xviii; Buell, The Future of Environmental Criticism, 138; Dwyer, 1.
Caringfor Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environment
  • Max Oelschlaeger
Oelschlaeger, Max. Caringfor Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environment. New Haven: Yale UP, 1994.
Galactic Habitable Zones:' Astrobiology Magazine
  • Guillermo Gonzalez
Gonzalez, Guillermo. "Galactic Habitable Zones:' Astrobiology Magazine. 18
Internet-linked Dictionary of Physics
  • Deeson Eric
Deeson, Eric. Internet-linked Dictionary of Physics. London: Harper-Collins, 2007. 19.
Whos Afraid of Post-Modernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church
  • James A K Smith
Smith, James A. K. Whos Afraid of Post-Modernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.
Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for our Planet
  • Jonathan Merritt
Merritt, Jonathan. Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for our Planet. New York: Faithwords, 2010.
The Greening of the Humanities
  • Jay Parini
Parini, Jay. "The Greening of the Humanities:' New York Times Magazine (October 29, 1995): 52-53.
An Experiment in Ecocriticism:' The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology
  • William Rueckert
Rueckert, William. "An Experiment in Ecocriticism:' The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Eds. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm, 105-22.
Jens Zimmerman makes a compelling case for a post-post-modern neo-humanism in "Quo Vadis? Literary Theory Beyond Postmodernism
  • Yolanda Pierce
  • Norman W Jones
Yolanda Pierce, '~frican-American Literature as Spiritual Witness: The Poetic Example of Margaret Alexander Walker": 233-37; and Norman W. Jones, "The Challenge of Christianity for Gay and Lesbian Criticism-and Vice Versa'': 238-43. Jens Zimmerman makes a compelling case for a post-post-modern neo-humanism in "Quo Vadis? Literary Theory Beyond Postmodernism;' C&L 53.4 (2004): 495-519. For sympathetic treatments of poststructuralism, see David C. Downing, "From Pillar to Post-modernism: C. S. Lewis and Current Critical Discourse;' C&L 46.2 (1997): 169-78;
Finally, it is worth noting Caleb D. Spencer's skepticism regarding all attempts to interpret from a Christian perspective
Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop," C&L 52.3 (2003): 367-85. Finally, it is worth noting Caleb D. Spencer's skepticism regarding all attempts to interpret from a Christian perspective. In "What Count~ as Christian Criticism?" in C&L 58.2 (2009): 273-81, he argues that "the notion of Christian criticism is simply a mistake" (279).
Hitt's greening of certain writers of the Long Eighteenth Century
  • See
See, for instance, Hitt's greening of certain writers of the Long Eighteenth Century;
Unless otherwise noted, all Old Testament references are from Alter
  • Dillard
Dillard's comments can be found at http:/ / 13 Unless otherwise noted, all Old Testament references are from Alter. 14
More sympathetic to White is James A. Nash, whose remarks appear in "The Ecological Complaint Against Christianity;' in Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility
White's essay first appeared in Science 155 (1967): 1203-07. Berry's response to White, "The Gift of Good Land;' is found in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman Wirzba (Washington, DC: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2002): 293-304. The physicist-priest A. R. Peacocke critiques White in Creation and the World of Science (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979): 275-78, as does Robin Attfield, in The Ethics of Environmental Concern (Athens: U of Georgia P, 1991), 20-23. More sympathetic to White is James A. Nash, whose remarks appear in "The Ecological Complaint Against Christianity;' in Loving Nature: Ecological Integrity and Christian Responsibility (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1991). One of the more interesting lines of argument against White are studies of non-Christian societies that show much of the same ecological blight as the West. For instance, Chinese-American geographer Yi-Fu Tuan studied environmental practices in Asia and found deforestation, erosion, and urbanization to be widespread problems.
The Gift of Good Land
  • Berry
Berry, "The Gift of Good Land;' 294.