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Chapter 17 - Waste

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 August 2021

Jeffrey Cohen
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
Stephanie Foote
Affiliation:
West Virginia University
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Summary

The history of waste records a relationship that has altered over time, resulting in various literal and symbolic manifestations. Waste Studies crosses conventional disciplines to offer ethical frameworks which pay attention to, understand, and act on bodily, cultural, and societal waste. With examples from novelists Toni Morrison and Wolfgang Hilbig, this chapter illustrates a number of aspects of waste in literature: waste as material agent; waste as metaphor; and narratives structured as waste, with little hope for clarity. The strategy of slow practice through narrative construction can prove a means to inculcate an ecological sensitivity and awareness we carry with us beyond the act of reading. While waste categories often are used to dismiss, deny, and reject certain humans, other-than-human agents, and material items, waste has also been used as a means to provoke compassion and ethical engagement by which we can develop a compassionate commonality with wasted beings to act for them, for us, and for the world. Waste Studies argues that the humanities can vibrantly and dynamically work to improve all of our lives in a concrete and material way.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Dini, Rachele. (2016). Consumerism, Waste, and Re-Use in Twentieth-Century Fiction: Legacies of the Avant-Garde. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
DiPalma, Vittoria. (2014). Wasteland: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Gee, Sophie. (2010). Making Waste: Leftovers and the Eighteenth-Century Imagination. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
George, Rose. (2008). The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste. New York: Metropolitan Books.Google Scholar
Gille, Zsuzsa. (2007). From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
Harold, Christine. (2020). Things Worth Keeping: The Value of Attachment in a Disposable World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harrison, Sarah K. (2017). Waste Matters: Urban Margins in Contemporary Literature. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Smith, Peter J. (2012). Between Two Stools: Scatology and Its Representations in English Literature, Chaucer to Swift. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
Stockton, Will. (2011). Playing Dirty: Sexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strasser, Susan. (1999). Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash. New York: Henry Holt and Company.Google Scholar
Viney, Will. (2014). Waste: A Philosophy of Things. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

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  • Waste
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.018
Available formats
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  • Waste
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.018
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Waste
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.018
Available formats
×