Just read the cluster on “Ecocriticism and Theory” in the Autumn 2010 ISLE, the journal of the ecocritical society ASLE. Some lively stuff, as usual, including a rising interest in “ecoaesthetics” that’s apparently coming from China, with some help from Scott Slovic and the European journal ecozona. It’s quite exciting to see new eco-trends emerge from the confines of nature writing, American studies, and Romanticist studies into a global space.
Many of the contributions to the theory cluster explore perceived tensions between green politics and theory, activism and intellectual inquiry. I’m very interested to see space being made for a more theoretical, more literary, and, in Greg Gerrard’s phrase “a great deal more difficult” ecocriticism. The global / postcolonial move promises to change eco-studies in fascinating ways.
But I worry a little about those “Earth-centric truths” that are the “undeniable heart” of the “green agenda.” It’s not that I don’t want more ecological knowledge, a wider range of interest in and responsibility toward the nonhuman environment. It’s that I don’t see the word “ocean” anywhere in this cluster. And ocean is mostly what the so-called “earth” really is.
Maybe this little conference next fall at the Island Institute in Maine, which will attempt to fill the “blue hole in environmental history,” can help on that front. Abstracts are due to John Gillis by the end of March. The Rachel Carson Center will pay all travel & lodging expenses. I’m involved in the session on literature and the arts.