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Drawing on a wide range of examples from literature, comics, film, television and digital media, Nerd Ecology is the first substantial ecocritical study of nerd culture's engagement with environmental issues. Exploring such works as Star Trek, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, the fiction of Thomas Pynchon, The Hunger Games, and superhero comics such as Green Lantern and X-Men, Anthony Lioi maps out the development of nerd culture and its intersections with the most fundamental ecocritical themes. In this way Lioi finds in the narratives of unpopular culture – narratives in which marginalised individuals and communities unite to save the planet – the building blocks of a new environmental politics in tune with the concerns of contemporary ecocritical theory and practice.
1. Nerd Ecology
2. Stellar Cosmopolitans: Star Trek and a Federation of Species
3. The Destruction of the Sky: Virtual Worlds as Refuge
4. The Great Music: Restoration as Counter-Apocalypse in the Tolkien Legendarium
5. Slayer and Signal: Joss Whedon Versus the Big Bads
6. Icons of Survival: Metahumanism as Planetary Defense
Anthony Lioi is Associate Professor of Liberal Arts and English and Director of the Writing and Communication Center at the Juilliard School, New York, USA.
"Lioi employs an eclectic assembly of critical tools, from semiotics and close reading to critical theory and anthropology [...] [He] is to be praised for combining clarity of argument with richly detailed examples."
– Times Literary Supplement
"The nerd as a biopolitical category rejected as waste, machine, and non-reproductive deviant launches Anthony Lioi's insightful study of nerd culture's imaginative contributions to environmental social change and justice. This playfully written, serious take on "unpopular" culture will be read across popular culture studies, American studies, and ecocriticism for its incisive analysis of the cultural intersections of toxicity, technology, and rejected people."
– Cheryl Lousley, Associate Professor of English/Interdisciplinary Studies, Lakehead University Orillia, Canada
"In Nerd Ecology Anthony Lioi unleashes his superhero powers to uncover underground and celestial environmental cultures. This aptly smart, witty, and quirky study poses Geektopia as a place where black, queer, nerds become interplanetary tricksters; where Dante, Darwin and classical philososophy meet Star Trek; where Pynchon, postmodern aesthetics and The Matrix find themselves in a (digital) wildlife refuge; and where Buffy the Vampire Slayer fights for environmental justice. This trek through unpopular culture takes on an extraordinary range of environmental topics, including mining, waste, climate change, cetacean extinction, restoration ecology, racism and eugenics, cyborg and queer ecology, and eco-cosmopolitanism. Lioi's book is fresh, riveting, surprising, invaluable – POW!"
– Stacy Alaimo, Professor of English, University of Texas at Arlington, USA
"Nerds unite! This book convincingly proves that from Lord of the Rings to The Hunger Games, fantasy and science fiction are much more than a guilty pleasure. They provide a storehouse rich with narratives, characters, tropes, questions, values, ethics, and metaphors offering fans (and there are many of us) a lively (Wachowskian) matrix of art, literature, film, games, technology and science for thinking about and planning, not apocalypse, but a plausible future of interspecies wellbeing and planetary health."
– Joni Adamson, Professor of Environmental Humanities, Arizona State University, USA
"Focusing on the rich ecological content of nerd culture, this enlightening and compelling landmark study makes the absolutely central point of considering nerd culture as a resource for ecological politics. Nerd Ecology sustains a rigorous, persuasive and much needed conversation between environmental humanities and American Studies, showing how, from now on, transnational considerations of thinking beyond the nation should include the cultures of the nerds, with their transformative power of addressing planetary emergency."
– Sonia Di Loreto, Università di Torino, Italy