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Written by one of Europe's leading critics, Ecocriticism and Italy reads the diverse landscapes of Italy in the cultural imagination. From death in Venice as a literary trope and petrochemical curse, through the volcanoes of Naples to wine, food and environmental violence in Piedmont, Serenella Iovino explores Italy as a text where ecology and imagination meet. Examining cases where justice, society and politics interlace with stories of land and life, pollution and redemption, Ecocriticism and Italy argues that literature, art and criticism are able to transform the unexpressed voices of these suffering worlds into stories of resistance and practices of liberation.
I. Bodies of Naples: A Journey in the Landscapes of Porosity
II. Cognitive Justice and the Truth of Biology: Death (and Life) in Venice
III. Three Earthquakes: Wounds, Signs, and Resisting Arts in Belice, Irpinia, and L'Aquila.
IV. Slow: Piedmont's Stories of Landscapes, Resistance, and Liberation.
Serenella Iovino is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Turin, Italy. She is a past president of the European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment (EASLCE) and her previous books include Ecologia Letteraria (2006) and, as co-editor, Material Ecocriticism (2014).
"The book offers insightful stories of ecological struggle that provide illuminating examples of the interconnectivity of human and nonhuman landscapes, showing how forms of resistance have been developed and acted in a variety of texts and contexts. The scrupulous and rigorous research of this work is coupled with a beautiful writing style, which effortlessly traverses and connects various disciplines, and is an inspired labour of love by the author for her country, its people, places, and literature."
"Ecocriticism and Italy paints a colorful and vivid picture of Italian environmental history [...] Combining theoretical innovation and analytic clarity with narrative skill, Iovino's book is an indispensable read for everyone interested in the Environmental Humanities, ecocriticism, ecophilosophy, comparative literary and cultural studies."
"A groundbreaking book, Serenella Iovino's Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance, and Liberation will help shape Italian studies over the coming decades. Firmly rooted in a philosophical perspective, the work articulates questions of ethics, place, and ecology in the Italian context and makes a convincing case for ecocriticism and environmental humanities. Iovino displays clarity of purpose and a superior ability to bring focus to a discipline that points the way to the future, while arguing for the capacity of literature to make sense of what we are experiencing as both personal and community narrative. An extremely engaging read, this book will find an audience well beyond Italian studies."
– MLA selection committee for the Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies
"One of the first titles in Bloomsbury's new Environmental Cultures series, Ecocriticism and Italy is not easy to place within any one field of study. Is it a work of landscape study, cultural criticism, social history? A few pages into the first chapter on porous Neapolitan landscapes-with a "Vesuvian anti- pastoral" narrative that moves fluidly from archaeology and literature to geology and urban studies – it becomes apparent that the book is all of these and more. Iovino makes post-disciplinary work look easy. And yet the apparent unity of literary, philosophical, and scientific approaches in Ecocriticism and Italy belies the difficult complexity of weaving compelling stories of ecological and cultural struggle that, while focused on Italy, have much to say about all interconnected human and nonhuman landscapes. The book clearly demonstrates ecocriticism as a nexus of critical narratives for the environmental humanities, from environmental justice and ecology to biosemiotics and cultural geography. It asks us to relocate environmental and bodily phenomena as they interrelate on local and extra-local scales, and it does so by compelling us to closely reassess and engage with our own intertwined, wounded, struggling, resisting landscapes."
– Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association
"Serenella Iovino's ambitious study expands both the terms in its title: 'ecocriticism' here includes environmental history and art criticism, while 'Italy' is emblematic of the rest of the world just as it is ecologically inseparable. By turns lyrical, illuminating and justly condemnatory, Ecocriticism and Italy highlights the remarkable insights afforded by new materialist analysis at its finest."
– Greg Garrard, Associate Professor of Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Canada
"Ecocriticism and Italy is a major work of environmental justice studies. In urging us "to heed the tacit voices of the world", Serenella Iovino testifies to the conjoined social, ecological and geological forces that contour the landscapes of crisis, suffering, resistance and unsteady hope. Her book is in the deepest sense material-alive to the complex power of "storied matter" to shape and animate the tectonic powers that are both political and more-than-human."
– Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment, Princeton University, USA
"Seamlessly interweaving philosophical reflection, political critique, geo-historical narrative, and literary exegesis, Iovino's arresting new book expands the trans-disciplinary repertoire of ecocriticism at the same time that it uncovers the more-than-human (re-)fashioning of exemplary Italian places and their global significance. Poetic, informative and insightful, this is narrative scholarship at its eloquent best, to be savoured like (and preferably with) a glass of the Piedmontese Nebbiolo wine that features in the last chapter. Clear-sighted yet resolutely hopeful, It is also a work to inspire more such practices of resistance and liberation that it at once describes and instantiates."
– Kate Rigby, Professor of Environmental Humanities, Monash University, USA. Author of Dancing with Disaster: Environmental Histories, Narratives, and Ethics for Perilous Times (2015).
"Ecocriticism and Italy is a bracing intervention – a beautiful and sometimes surreal work of material ecocriticism. Insisting we inhabit the text of the world, Iovino pens memorable narrative landscapes, marked by earthquakes, toxins, wars, and entangled violence, but also by art, eco-gastronomy, and other geographies of resistance. Iovino's Italy is a place of bioconvergence where the temporalities of industrial carcinogens meet the temporalities of carefully crafted wine. With its brilliant argument that "the impersonal is political", this riveting study will be invaluable for new materialism, environmental justice, environmentalism, and contemporary theories of the inhuman."
– Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English and Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, University of Texas, USA, and author of Bodily Natures: Science, Environment and the Material Self (2010)
"Serenella Iovino has given us a marvelous book, written with the mastery of a novelist and the knowledge of a top world scholar. Cells and rocks, lyrics and workers, waste and earthquakes are blended into the pages of a book which will change forever your ways of thinking of Italy."
– Marco Armiero, Director of the Environmental Humanities Lab at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and author of A Rugged Nation: Mountains and the Making of Modern Italy (2011)
"Ecocriticism and Italy is a very important work in environmental philosophy. The Italian examples analysed by Serenella Iovino bring to the fore crucial topics, such as new materialism and political impersonality, that the contemporary philosophical debate can no longer ignore. Through the pretext of earthquakes and Italian environmental catastrophes, Iovino's book presents theses and theoretical insights that force us to completely rethink the relationship between Homo Sapiens and the environment: it is the outside world as resistance."
– Maurizio Ferraris, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at Turin University, Italy, and author of Manifesto of New Realism (2015)