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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.

Open Access (free)
Ecopoetics, enjoyment and ecstatic hospitality
Kate Rigby

3 Deep sustainability: ecopoetics, enjoyment and ecstatic hospitality Kate Rigby Mind the gap! In 2007 an article appeared in the science journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution with the witty title, ‘Mind the Sustainability Gap’. The gap in question refers especially to the ecological dimension of the sustainability agenda and concerns the chasm that continues to yawn ever wider between ‘what we know needs to be done and what is actually being done’ to avert catastrophic climatic and environmental change (Fischer et al. 2007: 621). While the authors

in Literature and sustainability
On last animals and future bison
Joshua Schuster

5 Sustainability after extinction: on last animals and future bison Joshua Schuster It has been well documented recently that there is a noticeable rise in the rate of extinction across all plant and animal kingdoms. Several conservation biologists have indicated that current extinction rates are now between 100 and 1,000 times expected or background rates of extinction.1 The rise of extinction rates in the past few hundred years can be situated in parallel to the rise of scientific knowledge concerning the history of extinctions that stretch from recent times

in Literature and sustainability
The sense of an ending in Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods
Adeline Johns-Putra

9 The unsustainable aesthetics of sustainability: the sense of an ending in Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods Adeline Johns-Putra Jeanette Winterson’s 2007 novel, The Stone Gods, is a critique of progress, both in the general sense of movement, journeying, or going forward, and in the specialised sense of human development, particularly the privileging of economic and scientific improvement that is often called the myth or narrative of progress. In the spirit of so many of Winterson’s novels, The Stone Gods places its several protagonists on journeys, most

in Literature and sustainability
Crystal Tremblay and Sarah Amyot

25 Participatory sustainable waste ­management project in Brazil Crystal Tremblay and Sarah Amyot Context People who live off materials recovered from the waste stream exist in every corner of the world. However, these recyclers are among the most exploited and socially and economically excluded people. Recyclers face enormous stigmatization, discrimination and marginalization. This project was established to focus on participatory waste management as an opportunity to generate income and to improve the quality of life of informal recyclers (called catadores in

in Knowledge, democracy and action
Mandakini Pant

11 Mobilizing and strengthening knowledge for sustainable development in India Mandakini Pant University–community partnerships are based on the understanding that: (a) academics/researchers, practitioners (CSOs) and community members share a commonality of purpose for effecting sustainable development by producing knowledge to be used for the practical purpose of policy change and developmental interventions, contributing to theoretical elaboration and empowering communities through knowledge dissemination; and (b) they can be complementary to each other in

in Knowledge, democracy and action
Dana Phillips

7 Collapse, resilience, stability and sustainability in Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy Dana Phillips Myths are the agents of stability, fictions the agents of change. Myths call for absolute, fictions for conditional assent. Myths make sense in terms of a lost order of time … fictions, if successful, make sense of the here and now. (Kermode 1967: 39) The good news is that the end is in sight. The bad news is that it’s not happy. The worse news is that it’s also not the end. (@neinquarterly, 5 February 2015) Collapse, resilience, stability and

in Literature and sustainability
Paul Currion

innovation has been challenged by Mazzucato, who shows that the state has been a key actor not just by indirectly enabling innovation (through creating and regulating markets) but by directly investing in it, and that the state should therefore receive a share of the profits from that innovation so that the innovation cycle can be sustained ( Mazzucato, 2013 ). This analysis assumes that there is a market through which both state and private actors can profit, but it has been pointed out

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Lessons Learned for Engagement in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
Logan Cochrane

, legal, health), but systems thinking is required so that activities are understood as occurring within multi-scale, complex systems. Identifying the ‘weak link’ in the system may allow for proactive programming to address potential barriers to impact and sustainability ( USAID, 2012a ). Taking a broader systems perspective may result in pragmatic programme adjustments, as basic infrastructure are lacking throughout the majority of the country. Systems thinking helps to identify barriers and potential enablers, reducing ‘blind spots’ in design and implementation. For

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Christopher Z. Hobson

Written in the aftermath of the civil rights era’s expansive hopes, James Baldwin’s last novel, Just Above My Head (1979), examines a fundamental issue, the choice between hope and skepticism, or prophecy and doubt. Baldwin approaches this issue by questioning two cornerstone ideas of his fiction, the need for prophetic art and this art’s focus on anticipating a renovated society, often pictured in terms adapted from apocalyptic biblical texts and Gospel music lyrics. Just Above My Head is Baldwin’s fullest presentation of this kind of art and its linkage to apocalyptic hopes. He dramatizes these ideas in the art of his Gospel singer protagonist, particularly in a climactic scene of artistic dedication whose Gospel lyric envisions “tearing down the kingdom of this world.” Yet Baldwin also unsparingly questions these same ideas through plot and the blues-inflected skeptical-tragic consciousness of his narrator. Responding to a 1970s moment when hopes for transcendent justice seemed passé, Just Above My Head’s unique contribution is not to try to resolve the ideas it counterposes, but to face both the possible falseness of prophetic hope and our continuing need for it, and to present the necessity for choice in a final dream that holds the key to the novel’s meaning. In presenting this issue through a sustained double-voiced narrative that reexamines its author’s artistic practice and raises fundamental choices in outlook and conduct, Just Above My Head evidences the continuing artistic vitality of Baldwin’s late fiction.

James Baldwin Review