376 pages, 19 b/w illustrations
Material Ecocriticism offers new ways to analyze language and reality, human and nonhuman life, mind and matter, without falling into well-worn paths of thinking. Bringing ecocriticism closer to the material turn, the contributions to this landmark volume focus on material forces and substances, the agency of things, processes, narratives and stories, and making meaning out of the world. This broad-ranging reflection on contemporary human experience and expression provokes new understandings of the planet to which we are intimately connected.
"References and engages with the major works and writers on the new materialism with its focus on material entanglements and material agency [...] The quality of the essays ensures that this will be a useful volume for both undergraduate and graduate courses."
– Anne Elvey, Monash University
"The contributions to this collection are consistently well-written, balancing technical language, poetic vividness, and accessibility. Of interest to literary scholars and readers throughout the environmental humanities and theoretical sciences."
– Scott Slovic, Idaho State University
"An extremely valuable resource for anyone seeking an advanced introduction to the conversations and controversies animating the new 'material' turn in ecocriticism."
– Lawrence Buell, Harvard University
"This book is not an extension of spirituality to the boring domain of materiality, and it is not the opposite either, the humbling appeal to material infrastructure in order to dampen the dreams of scholars, priests, ecologists, and militants for a more uplifting world of meanings and beauties. It is the exploration of how many dimensions – many indeed spiritual – have been lost in not taking materiality seriously enough. A move that meets scientists half way to help them profit from their science so as to explore in common what geophysicitsis now call 'critical zones.' Critical zones indeed!"
– Bruno Latour, Université Sciences Po Paris
Foreword: Storied Matter
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
Introduction: Stories Come to Matter
Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann
Part I. Material Ecocriticism: Theories and Relations
1. From Ecological Postmodernism to Material Ecocriticism: Creative Materiality and Narrative Agency Serpil Oppermann
2. On the Limits of Agency: Notes on the Material Turn from a Systems-Theoretical Perspective
3. Creative Matter and Creative Mind: Cultural Ecology and Literary Creativity
4. Natural Play, Natural Metaphor and Natural Stories: Biosemiotic Realism
5. The Ecology of Color: Goethe’s Materialist Optics and Ecological Posthumanism
Part II. Narratives of Matter
6. Bodies of Naples: Stories, Matter, and the Landscapes of Porosity
7. When It Rains
8. Painful Material Realities, Avoidance, Ecophobia
Simon C. Estok
9. Semiotization of Matter: A Hybrid Zone between Biosemiotics and Material Ecocriticism
Part III. Politics of Matter
10. Pro/Polis: Three Forays into the Political Lives of Bees
11. Excremental Ecocriticism and the Global Sanitation Crisis
12. Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea
13. Meditations on Natural Worlds, Disabled Bodies, and a Politics of Cure
Part IV. Poetics of Matter
14. Corporeal Fieldwork and Risky Art: Peter Goin and the Making of Nuclear Landscapes
15. Of Material Sympathies, Paracelsus, and Whitman
16. Source of Life: Avatar, Amazonia, and an Ecology of Selves
17. The Liminal Space between Things: Epiphany and the Physical
Coda: Open Closure
A Diptych on Material Spirituality
18. Spirits that Matter: Pathways towards a Rematerialization of Religion and Spirituality
19. Mindful New Materialisms: Buddhist Roots for Material Ecocriticism’s Flourishing
Afterword: The Commonwealth of Breath
List of Contributors
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Serenella Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin, Italy. Serpil Oppermann is Professor of English at Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.