New & Other Directions
Literature and Nature
University of Helsinki/ Comparative Literature 25.11.2014
Apocalypse, End of Time
Book of Revelation
Greek; Apokálypsis; literally ”lifting of the veil"
Enviromental Imagination and
Apocalypticism
• Thomas Malthus =>
Population growth
and limited resources
• Paul Erlich: The
Population Bomb
(1972)
• Deep Ecology
• From Judeo-Christian
to secular context
In contemporary fiction and
culture
• Buell (1995) ”[…] in the
era of Cat’s Cradle, Dr.
Strangelove, and Star
Wars it is hard for
apocalypticism to keep
a straight face”
• Don De Lillo: White
Noise (1984)
• Margaret Atwood:
Oryx and Crake (2003)
Criticism?
• Malthus’s theory not
scientifically valid
• Media uses
environmental
catastrophes as
narratives for its own
ends
• Leads to dogmatic
thinking,
”ecofascism”?
Postcolonialism and
Ecocriticism – Texts and Study
• Locus Classicus;
Joseph Conrad The
Heart of Darkness
• Edgar Allan Poe:
Narrative of Arthur
Gordon Pym
• J. M. Coetzee: Life of
Michael K.
• Yan Martel: Life of Pi
Feminism and Ecology – Carolyn
Merchant (s.1936)
• The Death of Nature
(1980) => From
Renaissance ”female
earth” and holistic
cosmology to Scientific
Revolution
• Reinventing Eden
(2003) => JudeoChristian tradition has
seen nature as
female=> Narratives
structure our view of
nature
Modernism and Nature
WILLIAM FAULKNER
”The Bear”; Go Down Moses
(1942)
• A collection of short
stories or a novel?
• ”The Bear” –
Protagonist Isaac ”Ike”
McCaslin
• Hunting and ritual –
”Old Ben”
• Vanishing wilderness –
Plantation economy
and deforestation
• (Evans 1999; Palmer 2002)
Other themes in Faulkner
• Topography, sense of
place
• Legacy of slavery,
blood inheritence
(Light In August; Go
Down Moses etc)
• Sexuality, woman’s
position in the South
(The Wild Palms;
Absalom, Absalom;
The Hamlet)
• (Faulkner and the Natural World,
University Press of Mississippi 1999)
Postmodernism – Margaret
Atwood
• Surfacing (1971), on
surface a
Bildunsroman of a
young woman
• The impossibility of
depicting nature
• A fish or ”the idea of
a fish”?
• (Blomberg & Säntti 2008)
New directions for study and
research
• Science fiction,
fantasy, utopias and
dystopias
• Children’s literature
• Ecocritical
Shakespeare
• Cross-disciplinary
research
Thank You For the Course and Good Luck with the Exam!