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Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Ecocriticism investigates relationships between literature and the physical
environment it provides an ‘earth-centered’ approach to literary studies. It
draws attention to the human and non-human world, particularly to
connections between self, society, nature, and texts. It investigates the ways
in which writers represent different environments in literature and how this
influences real-world attitudes to place.
The principles of ecocriticism are drawn from:

Ecology and Ethics
What are the relations between language and culture? How do organisms
create and sustain complex social alliances? What complex interrelated
networks are apparent in texts? How might we recognize the nonlinear and
discontinuous order of things? How are social (and environmental) conflicts
mediated? How might the discourses of science and literature talk to each other
in texts?

Language and Criticism
How do words represent human and nonhuman life? What is the quality and
the integrity of the work?
Instead of looking for language ‘to represent’ (mimesis), ecocriticism
examines the ability of language ‘to point’ (deixis). In grammatical terms,
‘space deixis’ is concerned with the spatial locations relevant to an utterance
where places and things are identified by their distance from the speaker – for
example, the adverbs ‘here’ and ‘there’, the demonstratives ‘this’ and ‘that’,
and the adverbial phrases ‘across the street’ or ‘around the corner’. In
broader literary terms, we can ask how does the text point to or draw attention
to place? In particular, how does it draw attention to aspects of a place that
might otherwise be overlooked or unseen?

Ecocriticism is concerned with locating entities in space, time, and social
context relative to physical space. From an ecocritical perspective, learning
and writing landscape becomes a way of mapping cultural terrain.
Ecocriticism explores how metaphors of nature are used and abused across a
range of literary and non-literary texts. Its strongest advocates have been
feminist and gender critics who focus on the idea of place as shaping social
status and life possibilities. 

Ecocritics argue that in most literary theory, relations between writers, texts, 
and the world are examined, though the ‘world’ is synonymous with the social
sphere of the human. Ecocriticism expands the notion of the world to include
the entire ecosphere. It proceeds on the assumption that everything is
connected to everything else.

The development of ecocriticism has entailed three stages:

Firstly, investigating how nature is represented in texts, and exploring the
stereotypes and absences in texts.
Secondly, recouping nature writing and recognizing the environmental
conditions that may have shaped an author’s life.
Thirdly, developing theoretical approaches for ecocriticism by looking at the
the symbolic construction of species; how binaries of human and others are
constructed in texts; how we might understand the hybrid spaces and
cosmopolitan ironies of most lives; and the development of an ecological
poetics that is attuned to interconnections, energy, and flow;
Ecocriticism works against the alienation of humans from nature. Ecocritics
argues that there is no such thing as an individual, only an individual in
context; no self, only a self in place. They ask: What has counted as the
environment, and what may count? Who marks off the conceptual boundaries
and under what authority and for what reasons?

In contrast to literature that has celebrated human progress, some ecocritical
perspectives attend to the damages that culture has brought about (e.g.
waste, pollution, apocalypse) and others focus on wilderness, animals, and
earth.

Ecocritics encourage us to focus on place and dwelling, inviting us to ‘hunker

down’ in our own locale and pay close attention as we read and write place.

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