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Casting fresh light on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British art, literature, ecological science and paganism, Decadent Ecology reveals the pervasive influence of decadence and paganism on modern understandings of nature and the environment, queer and feminist politics, national identities, and changing social hierarchies. Combining scholarship in the environmental humanities with aesthetic and literary theory, this interdisciplinary study digs into works by Simeon Solomon, Algernon Swinburne, Walter Pater, Robert Louis Stevenson, Vernon Lee, Michael Field, Arthur Machen and others to address trans-temporal, trans-species intimacy; the vagabondage of place; the erotics of decomposition; occult ecology; decadent feminism; and neo-paganism. Decadent Ecology reveals the mutually influential relationship of art and science during the formulation of modern ecological, environmental, evolutionary and trans-national discourses, while also highlighting the dissident dynamism of new and recuperative pagan spiritualities - primarily Celtic, Nordic-Germanic, Greco-Roman and Egyptian - in the framing of personal, social and national identities.
Beginning with Emily Dickinson’s circumscribed view of her environment, the book introduces readers to the sciences, technologies, and aesthetics of vision that inform a natural history of casualty. The nineteenth century’s declensionist narratives of species, race, and nature corresponds to narratives of a Euro-American expansion of civilization across the American continent. Dickinson’s techniques of seeing comprise what is theorized as a “sketch.” Through a feminist lens influenced by the new materialist turn in ecocriticism, the sketch is defined as an optical-textual apparatus that materially engages with the environment and that apprehends the fragile tenuousness of ecological relation. The chapter positions the sketch as a minor and partial view of nature against the dominant wide-sweeping historical romance of exploration, empire, and nation. Using Harriet Jacobs’s “loophole of retreat” as an example, the chapter lays out the ecological and epistemological stakes of critical sketches whose engagement with the discourse of declining natures nevertheless opens out to a view of their survival based upon precarious environmental relations. Reflecting the sketch’s partiality back onto literary critical methodologies, “partial reading” is proposed as a method that situates its own epistemological limits as an apprehension of the casualties produced by historicizing gestures.
Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Discourse of Natural History illuminates how literary experimentation with natural history provides penumbral views of environmental survival. The book brings together feminist revisions of scientific objectivity and critical race theory on diaspora to show how biogeography influenced material and metaphorical concepts of species and race. It also highlights how lesser known writers of color like Simon Pokagon and James McCune Smith connected species migration and mutability to forms of racial uplift. The book situates these literary visions of environmental fragility and survival amidst the development of Darwinian theories of evolution and against a westward expanding American settler colonialism.
In a time of climate change, environmental degradation, and social injustice, the question of the value and purpose of human life has become urgent. What are the grounds for hope in a wounded world? This Sacred Life gives a deep philosophical and religious articulation of humanity's identity and vocation by rooting people in a symbiotic, meshwork world that is saturated with sacred gifts. The benefits of artificial intelligence and genetic enhancement notwithstanding, Norman Wirzba shows how an account of humans as interdependent and vulnerable creatures orients people to be a creative, healing presence in a world punctuated by wounds. He argues that the commodification of places and creatures needs to be resisted so that all life can be cherished and celebrated. Humanity's fundamental vocation is to bear witness to God's love for creaturely life, and to commit to the construction of a hospitable and beautiful world.
When James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy is read today, it is typically read within limits. It serves as an example of proletarian, sociological, or naturalist fiction. In this view, it is emblematic of the post-Chicago Renaissance dark age of creativity, it demonstrates the influence of the University of Chicago’s sociology department’s focus on neighborhoods and juvenile delinquency, or it is an example of ethnic literature. With this chapter, I take the Chicago sociologists’s focus on “ecology” and broaden it to include human relationships with their non-human surroundings. Doing so demonstrates the wide potential of readings for Studs Lonigan, wherein the preceding circumscriptions give way to new forms of collaboration, contamination, and association more in line with ecological thinking of our own time. It is precisely Studs’s ability to take advantage of Chicago’s own ecological planning, with its large network of parks, that present these moments of what Donna Haraway calls “making kin.” It is up to us new readers, then, to understand why the potential remains unused.
This introduction makes a case for a focus on ecological security when approaching the relationship between climate change and security. It outlines the central claims upon which this case is built, noting the significance of this approach in terms of the study and practice of security, climate change and their relationship. It concludes by outlining the structure of the book itself.
This conclusion summarizes the book and its core arguments, emphasizing the importance of a shift towards ecological security in the way we view and approach the security implications of climate change. It also reflects on the potential utility of such an approach beyond the issue of climate change to other dimensions of global security regularly linked to the Anthropocene context, including nuclear weapons and the coronavirus pandemic.
This chapter provides a definition of ecological security: a concern with the resilience of ecosystems themselves in the face of climate change. After noting antecedents to this account of security in engagement with environmental change generally and climate change specifically, the chapter goes on to outline the ethical assumptions upon which this discourse is built before defining and defending this account of the referent object of security and the nature of the threat climate change poses to it. It suggests the importance of the Anthropocene context in orienting our concern to ecosystems, noting how this focus, in turn, encourages practices oriented towards the rights and needs of the most vulnerable across time (future generations), space (impoverished and marginalized populations throughout the world) and species (other living beings).
Risk in the global economy is often borne by those with the least political agency or monetary resources, who also bear the brunt of the environmental damage inflicted by a system of unstoppered industrial development. Environmental humanities seeks greater justice and equality within human societies and in all ecological relationships; it can therefore model how risk is absorbed by those without access to economic and political advantage. We have to imagine a more equitable society before we can build it. The environmental humanities can create opportunities for creative and scholarly work to rethink its organizational and logical structure, to risk upending received rhetorical models in creative and scholarly work. Environmental humanities has a chance to reconceive how the “human” relates to the world around it, questioning the human as primary subject and imagining a way of seeing and describing the world as a horizontal shared space rather than a vertical, teleological hierarchy. It’s risky to practice new modes of expression. It’s even riskier to subordinate the human in a field where the word “human” is predominant. Environmental humanities is the place to take that risk.
By what criteria should theories or explanations be judged to be good, over and above the requirement or at least the ambition for them to be true or correct? We may invoke appropriateness, relevance, economy, clarity, comprehensiveness, generality, parsimony, simplicity, elegance, even beauty, but what views did earlier investigators entertain on the subject? We have already seen that one group of ancient Greek theorists developed a model of axiomatic-deductive demonstration designed to bolster claims that a sequence of argument could yield results that are not only true but incontrovertible.
This chapter explains the book's main argument, establishing why Scott needs to be re-assessed and read as an environmental writer. An identification of the types of environment explored in the ensuing chapters is accompanied by a summary of ecocritical theories that shape the arguments. The concept of land ethics is considered at the outset, to show how Scott anticipated that twentieth-century term introduced by American environmentalist Aldo Leopold. The chapter revises more usual readings of Scott’s work to show how he challenged rather than conformed to conventional picturesque understandings of landscape and rural environments. Explorations of the relationships between cities and rural Scotland show how Scott addressed the division between town and country, including his involvement with the energy (oil and coal gas) industry. Examples are taken from Scott's collected ballads, original poetry, fiction and personal writing as well as from his lifelong activity in land management and environmental stewardship.
The work of Walter Scott, one of the most globally influential authors of the nineteenth century, provides us with a unique narrative of the changing ecologies of Scotland over several centuries and writes this narrative into the history of environmental literature. Farmed environments, mountains, moors and forests along with rivers, shorelines, islands and oceans are explored, situating Scott's writing about shared human and nonhuman environments in the context of the emerging Anthropocene. Susan Oliver attends to changes and losses acting in counterpoint to the narratives of 'improvement' that underpin modernization in land management. She investigates the imaginative ecologies of folklore and local culture. Each chapter establishes a dialogue between ecocritical theory and Scott as storyteller of social history. This is a book that shows how Scott challenged conventional assumptions about the permanency of stone and the evanescence of air; it begins with the land and ends by looking at the stars.
Within the family Adeleidae, Adelina spp. belong to a group of arthropod pathogens. These parasites have been reported to have a wide geographic distribution, however, there are no reports of these protists in the Canary Islands, Spain. One of the peculiarities of the life cycle of Adelina spp. is the participation of a predator, because fecundation and sporulation occur inside the body cavity, and so necessitate destruction of the definitive host. The involvement therefore of a ‘dispersion host’, which eats the definitive host and spreads the oocysts through its faeces, is critical for the maintenance of certain Adelina spp. On the island of Gran Canaria, adeleid oocysts have been found in stool samples from four animals, three California kingsnakes (Lampropeltis californiae), and one feral cat. These animals were part of a larger coprological study of vertebrate parasites (117 snakes, 298 cats), where pseudoparasitic elements were also recorded. L. californiae and feral cats are invasive species which are widespread across the island and this novel finding of Adelina spp. oocysts in their faeces suggests that they could also serve as potential sentinel species for arthropod parasites.
Discusses ecology and the role of natural environments in religious discourse, looking specifically at how religious institutions talked about the environment and conceive of it in relation to religious doctrine and belief and practice.
“Intimacies and Animacies: Queer Ecologies in Asian American Literature” interrogates ideologies that define and govern notions of gender, race, bodies, and nature in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman and Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night. This chapter explores not only how culturally constructed concepts of filth, decay, and normalcy are mobilized against certain subject positions, but the ways in which these marginalized subjects survive through a radical affiliation and re-orientation to more-than-human natures. Drawing on queer theory’s commitment to destabilizing ideological institutions that structure normative gender and sexual relations, and ecofeminism’s attention to how patriarchal structures overlay the commodification and exploitation of the natural world, this chapter explores the ways these Asian North American authors theorize human-nature relationships in opposition to logics of domination and violence. Suggesting that the fecund, chaotic domicile of Mala Ramchandin in Cereus Blooms at Night offers an articulation of queer space and reading the ingestion of soil, earth, and dust by Comfort Woman’s Kim Soon Hyo as queer incorporation, this chapter examines the oppositional orientations to subjectivity and place that these texts offer.
John Steinbeck is a towering figure in twentieth-century American literature; yet he remains one of our least understood writers. This major reevaluation of Steinbeck by Gavin Jones uncovers a timely thinker who confronted the fate of humanity as a species facing climate change, environmental crisis, and a growing divide between the powerful and the marginalized. Driven by insatiable curiosity, Steinbeck's work crossed a variety of borders – between the United States and the Global South, between human and nonhuman lifeforms, between science and the arts, and between literature and film – to explore the transformations in consciousness necessary for our survival on a precarious planet. Always seeking new forms to express his ecological and social vision of human interconnectedness and vulnerability, Steinbeck is a writer of urgent concern for the twenty-first century, even as he was haunted by the legacies of racism and injustice in the American West.
G. E. Hutchinson inimitable phrase “the ecological theater and evolutionary play” captures the indispensable contribution ecology and evolutionary science make to understanding the biological world. Both concern vast overlapping portions of that world, and alone neither supplies a complete accounting of it. Just as ecological and evolutionary sciences are at the core of biology, philosophy of evolutionary biology and ecology are at the core of philosophy of biology. This book introduces readers to the philosophically rich issues ecology poses. Ecology has also never been more important as a science, and its philosophy more important to society. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and other looming environmental challenges make ecology’s role in understanding such threats and identifying solutions all the more critical. When ecology is applied and its insights marshalled to address these problems and guide policy-formation interesting philosophical issues emerge. This book explores the often ethically charged dimensions of applied ecological science. Topics include: the ecological niche, whether there are distinctively ecological laws, the reality of biological communities, ecological stability and the balance of nature, ecological modeling and reduction, how biodiversity should be characterized, how scientific progress should be conceptualized when ecology is applied, and the fact/value distinction in applied ecology.
Ecology is indispensable to understanding the biological world and addressing the environmental problems humanity faces. Its philosophy has never been more important. In this book, James Justus introduces readers to the philosophically rich issues ecology poses. Besides its crucial role in biological science generally, climate change, biodiversity loss, and other looming environmental challenges make ecology's role in understanding such threats and identifying solutions to them all the more critical. When ecology is applied and its insights marshalled to address these problems and guide policy formation, interesting philosophical issues emerge. Justus sets them out in detail, and explores the often ethically charged dimensions of applied ecological science, using accessible language and a wealth of scientifically-informed examples.
Despite the centrality of place to H. P. Lovecraft and Jeff VanderMeer’s fiction, weird regionalisms have largely been ignored in literary criticism. This essay not only reads The Southern Reach trilogy through the lens of region, but also reads region through the lens of The Southern Reach trilogy. It contrasts Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” with VanderMeer’s trilogy to highlight how they both develop a weird aesthetics of the Plantationocene. The chapter argues that weird fiction in the U.S. has always been underwritten by racialized and regionalized ideologies that derive from slavery and the plantation. The New England exceptionalism Lovecraft endorses is founded on concepts of personhood, nature, and region that legitimate the dehumanization of African Americans and other people of color. In contrast, VanderMeer presents the indisputably southern terrain of the Gulf Coast in a way that does not rely on “the South” as a significant framework. The Southern Reach portrays a sparsely populated Gulf Coast that is not so much post-southern as it is post-Earth: VanderMeerian Florida camouflages something very different, and much more weird, than region as southern studies scholars often think of it.
Weaving primary accounts with botanical and ecological analyses, this chapter demonstrates how oil palm cultures, landscapes, and commerce emerged in western Africa and eventually helped to integrate an Atlantic World. It details human-oil palm relationships in West and Central Africa over the previous five thousand years, and applies complexity sciences to understand the formation and proliferation of biodiverse palm groves permeating human communities and secondary forests. It places palm oil and kernels as early goods of trade on the inter-biome routes and later with European ships journeying down African coasts, and describes how palm oil supported the transatlantic slave trade as both provision and medicine. It culminates by charting the oil palm’s diffusion throughout the Caribbean and the mainland American Tropics during European colonial expansion. Charting the longue durée of African oil palms and their transatlantic diffusion, this chapter reveals how a promising model of human-environmental collaboration and ingenuity became subsumed in the transatlantic slave economy and its horrendous crimes against humanity.