Ecocriticism: Literature and The Physical Environment

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Ecocriticism is “'the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment'” (Bressler 231). It holds that humans and the earth are interconnected and seeks both to explore the ways in which literature portrays this bond as well as advocates activism to help protect it. It is one of the more modern schools of literary theory but is a firmly established form of criticism, especially with the growing concern for the consequences of climate change caused by the imbalance between human consumption and environmental capacity. Ecocriticism asserts that humans are “peoples of 'place'” (Bressler 231), our lives defined by the environment that we inhabit and the necessities of survival that are dictated by nature. The more we recognize this innate and deep connection—for example, through the reading and analyzing of the nature-human dynamic in literature—the stronger and healthier this relationship will become. We as humans will recognize our dependence on the earth instead of our dominance over it; we will recognize ourselves as “guardians” and learn how to better appreciate and protect the environment for future generations of authors and poets to continue to explore. Ecocriticism is a highly inclusive literary theory in a number of ways. For one, all texts can be analyzed through an ecocritical lens, because “all literature...is viewed in terms of place, setting, and/or environment” (Johnson 7). Thus, examining the relationship between setting and characters is an act of ecocriticism no matter what the subject or plot of the work. Also, ecocriticism can be applied in conjunction with other literary criticisms such as Marxism and/or feminism and other disciplines such as Native American and/or African America... ... middle of paper ... ...ature. Works Cited Bressler, Charles E. "Chapter 10: Postcolonialism." Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2011. 181-96. Print Estok, Simon C. "A Report Card on Ecocriticism." The Journal of the Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association 96 (2001): 220-38. Asle.org. The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Nov. 2001. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . Johnson, Loretta. "Greening the Library: The Fundamentals and Future of Ecocriticism." Asle.org. The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2012. . Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Paul Hunter. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2011. Print.
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