A chief innovation of Explorations in Ecocriticism is to push ecological criticism beyond its focus on literary studies to engage with other arts and culture. One chapter closely examines the pictures commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to valorize its big dam projects. Previously, no one has written about the large art collection that toured the nation under the auspices of the Smithsonian in the early 1970s, when the Bureau of Reclamation was under fire and new environmental regulations were becoming law. Another chapter, "An Iconography of Sabotage," previously published in France as part of a Paris symposium, looks at the pictorial dimension of saboteurs throughout American history, with a special emphasis on the IWW and Earth First! The book draws extensively on the social sciences. Ecology and environment are treated too often as technical topics that go over the heads of lay readers. Many Americans care about air and water quality, the extinction of species, and the unfortunate politicization of science. But they also find the discourse daunting, the details exceedingly complex. By leavening such heavy subjects with current events, Explorations in Ecocriticism makes environmental issues accessible to lay readers and offers routes to sustainability in the United States today.
Chapter 1: Edging toward Ecology in Early American Natural History
Chapter 2: Literary Activism and the Bioregional Agenda
Chapter 3: West of Winthrop: Language and Landscape in Washington Territory
Chapter 4: An Iconography of Sabotage
Chapter 5: Rage Against the Machine: Edward Abbey and Neo-Luddite Thought
Chapter 6: Overtures to Sublimity: Assessing the Bureau of Reclamation Art Collection
Chapter 7: American Nature Writing and the Wise-Use Movement
Chapter 8: Greening the Dramatic Canon
Chapter 9: Gifts and Misgivings in Place
Chapter 10: Restoring Bioregions through Applied Composition
About the Author
Paul Lindholdt is a professor of English at Eastern Washington University.
"[The author's] chapters cut across genres and fields of research, including literary analysis, cultural critique, advocacy for activism, and pedagogy [...] Repeatedly, Lindholdt has the good sense to answer the question a reader might ask: so what? One is never in doubt that what these writers, such as John Josselyn, William Wood, and William Bartram, published is relevant for us to analyze today."
– ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment
"Lindholdt has given us a strong new collection that stretches the conceptual boundaries of ecocriticism [...] . Explorations represents a laudable addition to Lexington Books' recent ecocriticism series. The three terms of his subtitle explain the collection's innovation, for the unexpected connections between advocacy, bioregionalism, and visual design demonstrate his reach into less familiar territory. Lindholdt's wide, comfortable interdisciplinarity is commendable [...] . Perhaps Lindholdt's most innovative work concerns his subversive reading of the Bureau of Reclamation's commissioned art collection (1968–73), now dispersed and incomplete, through the conceptual lens of ecopornography. Here is a story few know, and his ecocritical undressing of this propagandistic initiative by a federal agency most known for out-of-control dam building persuasively exposes its agenda. The essay illustrates Lindholdt's diverse, innovative paths, and Explorations inspires readers to further their own."
– Western American Literature
"Following his very well received volume of autobiographical ecocriticism, In Earshot of Water, Paul Lindholdt delivers this new collection of scholarly ecocriticism – deeply researched, beautifully written, and no less comprehensive and compelling. Ranging from colonial natural histories to the reformist sabotage by contemporary eco-warriors, he surprises again and again with his revisionary insights into America's ongoing exploitation of the land."
– Harold Fromm, University of Arizona
"This is a passionate, well written account of the manifold underpinnings of environmental thought, one which re-energizes and re-vivifies the strengths and possibilities of ecocriticism. It is up-to-date, thoughtful, and displays a great depth of scholarship while conveying the urgency and complexity of the environmental dilemmas facing us."
– Rebecca Raglon, University of British Columbia
"Lindholdt contributes to the sea-change of literary activism. As scholarly and personal voices merge, he finds a way to profess, to compel an audience, to persist. From early American ecologies to ecopornography, he gives us a book that matters."
– Aaron M. Moe, author of Zoopoetics: Animals and the Making of Poetry