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Concept, text and culture

Sustainability is a notoriously fraught and slippery term, and yet one that is now well-established in mainstream usage across the contemporary world. While sustainability is widely discussed and theorised across range of disciplines, this book sets out to consider what innovations literary scholarship might bring to the sustainability debate, and indeed what sustainability as a concept might bring to literary scholarship. Putting forward a range of essays by leading and upcoming scholars, this book takes a non-prescriptive and critically reflective stance towards the problem of sustainability – a stance we describe as critical sustainability. Essays in this collection accordingly undertake a range of approaches, from applying tools of literary enquiry in order to interrogate sustainability’s paradoxes, to investigating the ways in which literature envisages sustainability or plays out its tropes. Overall, this book seeks to demonstrate how sustainability’s difficulties might open up a productive opportunity for interrogation and exploration of the kind that literary scholars and ecocritics are ideally placed to carry out.

discussing it in greater detail, I would like to suggest – really, to insist – that Atwood’s approach to her material is satirical. Despite the grimness of many of the elements of her story, which documents the end of the world as we know it though not the end of the world as such, Atwood’s attitude remains consistently irreverent. While this lack of reverence is basic to the satirist’s fictional mandate, it does pose a significant problem, especially for ecocritical interpretations. It makes it difficult to read the MaddAddam trilogy as a cautionary tale about collapse

in Literature and sustainability
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Ecopoetics, enjoyment and ecstatic hospitality

dedicated to birds and their nests. Clare, along with several other Romantic writers and philosophers, has attracted a good deal of ecocritical attention following the publication of Jonathan Bate’s landmark study of ‘romantic ecology’ in 1991; and in his later monograph, The Song of the Earth, Bate homed in on Clare’s nest poems in particular as exemplary of an ecopoetics of dwelling. Yet, as Richard Kerridge observes in his discussion of ‘Green Pleasures’ (2009), Romanticism occupies an ambivalent position in relation to sustainability. In the influential analysis

in Literature and sustainability
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Precedents to sustainability in nineteenth-century literature and culture

). Foregrounding the ecological importance of the concept, Grober touches upon the inflection of Umwelt as it was developed by the Estonian German naturalist Jakob von Uexküll in his 1909 book Environment and Inner World of Animals. Recently, von Uexküll has had a great influence on the fields of biosemiotics and ecocriticism. 38 Discourses of sustainability His definition best captures the significance of the developing concept of environment to that of sustainability. Umwelt was promulgated by von Uexküll to express a subjective sense of environment. It refers, on the one

in Literature and sustainability
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Sustainability, subject and necessity in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi

novel draws attention to the poles between which its narrative operates. In performing the tension between the phenomenological and the speculative real, the novel alludes to such tensions in sustainability as those between its global and local dynamics and between its weaker and stronger forms. The need for ecocritics to pay attention to issues of scale, such as that of the local and global, has been stated before (Clark 2011; Heise 2008; Keller 2012; Trexler and Johns-Putra 2011). The novel handles such issues by directly inserting the object (the futural vision

in Literature and sustainability
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Sustainability, the arts and the watermill

pre- and early modern communities: it enabled them to be self-sustaining; it made the people and their land sustainable. There are several rich accounts of the history of the watermill in Britain – for example by Reynolds (1983), Steven S. Kaplan (1984) and Martin Watts (2006) – and Beryl Rowland (1969, 1970) has surveyed literary (including classical) representations of milling and millstones. Reynolds suggests that its very ubiquity in history and literature has made the watermill an overlooked subject for contemporary cultural and ecocritical study (1983: 3

in Literature and sustainability
Sustainability in Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy

2014. ‘Futurology’. In The Oxford Handbook of Science Fiction. Ed. Rob Latham. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 513–23. Clarke, I. F. 1971. ‘Prophets and Predictors: 1: The Utility of Utopia’, Futures 3 (4): 196–401. Davis, Doug and Lisa Yaszek 2012. ‘Science’s Consciousness: An Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson’, Configurations 20 (1/2) (Winter–Spring): 187–94. Gernsback, Hugo 1926. ‘A New Sort of Magazine’, Amazing Stories 1 (1): 3. Johns-Putra, Adeline 2010. ‘Ecocriticism, Genre, and Climate Change: Reading the Utopian Vision of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in

in Literature and sustainability
The poetics of sustainability and the politics of what we’re sustaining

2000. ‘Culture as Decay: Arnold, Eliot, Snyder’. In The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism. Ed. Laurence Coupe. London: Routledge, 227–34. Reprinted excerpt from Elder, John 1985. Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Elder, John 2015. ‘An Interview with John Elder’ by Isabel Galleymore, The Clearing 13 March 2015. www.littletoller.co.uk/the-clearing/an-interview-with-johnelder/. Accessed 19 March 2017. Eliot, T. S. 1975 [1919]. ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’. In Selected Prose of T. S

in Literature and sustainability
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John Lydgate’s ‘Soteltes for the coronation banquet of Henry VI’

, and have usefully intersected with ecocritical studies to generate ecomaterialist analyses that consider the agency of, for example, water or fire.2 Yet the materiality of objects that evoked or necessitated human participation can be assessed in ways that extend beyond the ontological focus. In particular, recent developments in the study of materiality in digital contexts offer approaches of use to the study of premodern, medieval materiality. Joanna Drucker, N. Katherine Hayles, and Matthew Kirschenbaum have been the leading voices discussing how to assess the

in Participatory reading in late-medieval England