Romantic Sustainability is a collection of sixteen essays that examine the British Romantic era in ecocritical terms. Written by scholars from five continents, this international collection addresses the works of traditional Romantic writers such as John Keats, Percy Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Samuel Coleridge but also delves into ecocritical topics related to authors added to the canon more recently, such as Elizabeth Inchbald and John Clare. The essays examine geological formations, clouds, and landscapes as well as the posthuman and the monstrous. The essays are grouped into rough categories that start with inspiration and the imagination before moving to the varied types of consumption associated with human interaction with the natural world. Subsequent essays in Romantic Sustainability focus on environmental destruction, monstrous creations, and apocalypse. The common theme is sustainability, as each contributor examines Romantic ideas that intersect with ecocriticism and relates literary works to questions about race, gender, religion, and identity.
List of Illustrations
Part I: Inspiration and the Imagination
Chapter 1: Coleridge’s “Deep Romantic Chasm”: Kubla Khan, the Valley of Rocks, and the Geomorphological Imagination
Adrian J. Wallbank
Chapter 2: Strict Machine: The DILLIAM Eco-Loop
Michael Angelo Tata
Chapter 3: Romantic Clouds: Climate, Affect, Hyperobjects
Seth T. Reno
Chapter 4: “In Some Untrodden Region of My Mind”: Mental Landscapes in Keats’s Poetry
Huey-fen Fay Yao
Part II: Diets and Consumption
Chapter 5: Sublime Diets: Percy Shelley’s Radical Consumption
Madison Percy Jones
Chapter 6: The Bloodless Church: Dualist Asceticism and Romantic Vegetarianism
Chapter 7: The Horror of Starvation: Sustainability in Allan Cunningham’s and John Francis Campbell’s Supernatural Tales
Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns
Part III: Alienation and Environmental Degradation
Chapter 8: First Child in the Woods: “Nature-Deficit Disorder” and the Future of Romantic Childhood
Chapter 9: “The Temple of Folly”: Transatlantic “Nature,” Nabobs, and Environmental Degradation in The Woman of Colour
Denys Van Renen
Chapter 10: A Pauper’s Sustenance: Malthusianism and John Clare’s “The Lament of Swordy Well”
Part IV: Beasts and Monsters
Chapter 11: Masculinity, Monstrosity, and Sustainability in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Chapter 12: The Monsters of Zocotora: Negotiating a Sustainable Identity through the Environment in Elizabeth Inchbald’s Nature and Art
Ben P. Robertson
Chapter 13: Wollstonecraft—Unnatural Woman: Between the Nature of the Feminine and a Gendered Nature
Part V: Extinction and Apocalypse
Chapter 14: Shelley and the Limits of Sustainability
Adam R. Rosenthal
Chapter 15: Apocalypse Not Quite: Romanticism and the Post-Human World
Chapter 16: Questioning Agency: Dehumanizing Sustainability in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man
About the Contributors
Ben P. Robertson is professor of English at Troy University.
"Robertson offers a diverse collection of applied ecocritical essays, written by an international group of contributors from five continents, that focus on both traditional and less-known Romantic texts. One of the primary strengths of ecocriticism is its adaptability to a wide variety of purposes and strategies, and these essays forge innovative links between environmental sustainability and considerations such as race, gender, religion, and identity, and also 19th-century developments in science and technology. Robertson, who also edited The Travel Writings of John Moore (4v., 2014), organizes the collection around broad themes that range from the environment as imaginative inspiration to nightmares of extinction and apocalypse. Notable contributions include Molly Hall's ecofeminist reading of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Denys Van Renen's analysis of the intersection of race and the environment in the anonymously written The Woman of Colour. Marked by theoretical sophistication and including meticulous scholarly apparatus, this accessible, groundbreaking collection should strongly influence the next generation of Romantic scholarship. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."
"[These essays] offer some striking new approaches to familiar texts and introduce us to hitherto overlooked or neglected ones [...] [The book] move[s] Romantic ecocriticism into generative theoretical territory, and [...] point[s] to one thing for certain: Erasmus Darwin's star is rising."
– European Romantic Review
"Romantic Sustainability: Endurance and the Natural World encompasses a diverse and eclectic range of approaches to the understanding of sustainable and unsustainable practices in the British Romantic period. This groundbreaking collection of essays brings together both established and emerging voices in the field of ecocriticism, and it offers fascinating new insights into the complex relationship between Romantic-era writers and their lived environments. This collection is especially perceptive in its exploration of Romantic literature and science, and it unflinchingly examines how several writers of this period envisioned the fate of humankind in a world threatened by environmental apocalypse. Each of the essays in this important collection makes a significant contribution to the understanding of ecological theory and practice in the British Romantic period."
– James C. McKusick, University of Missouri–Kansas City