Friday, June 03, 2016

Veer Ecology: "Welcome to the Whirled"

by J J Cohen

Today Lowell Duckert and I submitted the hulking manuscript of Veer Ecology: An Ecotheory Companion to the University of Minnesota Press. The book is already under contract but will need to reviewed before entering production. The project is huge: 29 essays, a [gracious!] foreword by Cheryll Glotfelty and an afterword by Nicholas Royle. Veer Ecology is the third collaboration Lowell and I have undertaken together (the first was a special issue of postmedieval on "Ecomaterialism," the second the recent collection Elemental Ecocriticism). Below is the introduction that came from some intense rumination over the essays, mostly while Lowell moved into my house for four days and we did little besides write, think, drink coffee, cook, and write. Plus a bunch of Google Hangouts in the weeks that followed to get things smoothly gyred ... and somehow the whole thing came together in a way that both pleased and startled us. Consorting with such stellar contributors galvanized us.

I have been fortunate in my collaborations over the years, having written with many scholars far more talented than I am, scholars who have pushed me to think beyond comfortable ambits to accomplish things that solitary writing could never attain (I am looking at you Cary Howie, Stephanie Trigg, Allan Mitchell, Julian Yates, Karl Steel, Stephanie LeMenager and Lindy Elkins-Tanton!). Lowell has been the collaborator with whom I've worked the longest. He has companioned my ecocritical thinking for a transformative span of years. I am deeply honored to collaborate yet again with someone so inspirational.

Let us know what you think of our introduction. We will undoubtedly revise it at least once more.

Veer Ecology: An Ecotheory Companion gathers a cross-disciplinary company of scholars to follow the trajectories of some vibrant terms for thinking ecological theory and practice. We call this book a companion in the hope of offering a ready partner and congenial fellow traveler, a vademecum to foster attentiveness and accompany further wandering. Tracing the lively trajectories of verbs familiar and unexpected, this volume aims not to provide encyclopedic overviews or definitive accounts of critical concepts (all concepts are critical), but to compose a welcoming, mobile and heterogeneous solidarity. Imagining possible futures for the humanities during a time of widespread environmental crisis, Veer Ecology extends an invitation to shared endeavor. Through collaboration across historical periods, geographies, archives and expertise, we attempt less anthropocentric modes of apprehending ecological urgency and danger, as well as the necessity of shared thriving. We strive to multiply points of view, to harness the ability of language to transport cognition and affect beyond the small orbit of the human, to tend to disanthropocentric pulsion within the mundane. Not every contributor to this colloquy self-identifies as an ecocritic or expert in the environmental humanities. Our aspiration is that Veer Ecology will make evident that we (a first person plural that is meant to include you, the reader) are always thinking environmentally, but our modes of engagement could be usefully intensified through better recognition of collective precarity and unlooked for, wide companionship -- even within the modest and fugitive shelters that projects like book-building extend.[1]
Ecotheory is a convergence of ecology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, literature, feminism, sustainability studies, environmental justice (including indigenous and postcolonial studies), queer theory and numerous adjacent fields that seeks to deepen understanding of the intimacy of humans and nonhumans. Striving to better frame ethical, historical and cognitive relations to the world, especially at a time of anthropogenic climate change and global crisis, ecotheory ranges across the environmental humanities, green studies, social and critical activism, and the new materialisms (including material feminism, object studies, and vibrant materialism). Queer ecology conveys these often overlapping yet resolutely eccentric trajectories best.[2] Literature, history and the arts bring to environmental science a long and spirited conversation about the relation of human activity (intellectual and industrial) to a world exceeding anthropomorphic capture. Working against the concretizing tendency of a research guide or definitive overview, this book traces ecotheory in motion, as arcing verb, as veer. Ecotheory is after all a ceaseless spur and a doing, a way of apprehending from the thick of things, not the cementing of an extant body of knowledge into perduring form, or a knowledge to be glimpsed from an exterior point of view.[3] An actively contemplative response to contemporary and historical states of emergency, ecotheory urges complicated understandings of human entanglement within a never separable nature -- a material enmeshment perceived long before the Anthropoocene arrived.[4] This collaboration therefore aims for catalysis rather than mastery, incitement rather than codification. Because of its origins in ecology, ecotheory cannot be divorced from multimodal forms of activism (including writing) and unforeseen companioning as a form of challenge.
Veer Ecology emphasizes through its title the etymology of the noun “environment” in sudden spirals. French virer means "to turn.” This collection of essays responds to an intensified interest within environmental studies in directionality. The “animal turn,” “material turn,” "geologic turn" and “hydrological turn" collect an array of incisive investigations into how the ecological works: it spins. Our collaborative endeavor takes the ecological turn quite literally. Far from merely environing the human in anthropocentric ways (Michel Serres’s worry about “environment”), Veer Ecology acknowledges a world full of in/human and in/organic things that will suddenly, and unpredictably, go off course.[5] They act, they drift, they swerve and resist. In deviating from human domination, they disrupt secure dwelling in ways that are catastrophic, pleasurable, orbit-changing. Besides a swift change of subject or direction, “veer” describes wind's swirling motion. Though not the world’s only sudden element, air suggests the dynamism embedded in veer, its propensity to circle back, to whirl as a vortex.[6] As the intensity and frequency of storms like Sandy and Katrina have made evident, climate does not conform to a bounded system. Affect and atmosphere at once, meteorological and bodily, a shifter of scale and breaker of partition, climate cannot be encompassed or controlled. Veer Ecology stresses the forceful potential of things (inquiry, weather, biomes, apprehensions, desires) to change course -- with shared, unevenly distributed and insistently material impacts. This companionate project is therefore not a compass, not a closed system of neatly arranged points that orients readers. Each word is a prod to yet more positions. Veering enables ontological, epistemological, and ethical positions to curl, curve, converge, converse.
We invite you to accompany us along some spiralling trajectories, a topography of ecotheory in motion. We enumerate five kinetic possibilities, but our list is incomplete, and alternative tracks manifold. They await your deviations.
Welcome to the whirled.

VERB (“to know motion”)
Welcome is a passionate imperative: an opening, not a capture; an interruption, not a state. We address its injunction towards ourselves, as a reminder of what this project aspires to offer, but we hope that you will companion us, for a while, under its shelter. So, come with us. Please. But bring whatever gear that you suspect will assist in this shared venture. The ecology that welcome opens is a house awhirl, a moving castle, cleft rock, a domain in disarray. Dwelling in such a mess is not always comfortable, we admit, and yet we seldom seem to finish constructing these temporary spaces of refuge, these hearths for warmth and story, before we find ourselves in company too boisterous for even the most capacious haven.[7] It is as if the unfinished Tower of Babel were a inhabited as spiralling encyclopedia or library, a perpetual gathering and emission device for soundings and new languages, loquacious reverberation, polyglot and heterogeneous collectivity.
House is a humane verb. Although at their secret interiors nouns are terms in motion, they have a habit of obscuring the eventuation of the world, its ongoingness. Ecology is a doing, emergence rather than structure, a housemaking rather than a house-hold.[8] The cleft of definition has a way of believing the dichotomies it founds: noun|verb, language|world, stasis|mobility, home|wild.[9] Segregations are imposed with lasting and unevenly felt costs.[10] If a dictionary is a house of letters, then its oikos must be a restless one, never perfectible. What might such open books welcome? Words that speak the world and convey whirl.[11] Thick with ecological possibility and narrative drift, words need not be animated by human hands in order to move. No alphabet will still or order long. Ecology and every word it houses attunes us to verbose multidirectionality, unmooring terms: a veercabulary, never monoglot or merely reiterative, a tongue-twisting surge of disanthropocentric energy to silence human soliloquizing. Word-life thrums with wild life, with world-life.[12] Always verbalize. Find the motion in the noun, the play in the preposition, the transport of the metaphor, the intensification of the adverb, the escalation of the adjective, the doing of the verb. Tend, attend, tender.
Keywords unlock multiple doors. This ecotheory companion would not have been possible without foundational projects like Raymond Williams’s Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society -- a work that had the forethought to offer blank final pages as part of its arrangement, a signal that lexical inquiry “remains open” and that “the author will welcome all amendments, corrections, and additions.”[13] The capacious volume Keywords for Environmental Studies has recently offered a collaborative terminological inventory for building a bracingly cross-disciplinary future for environmental studies.[14] The volume is arranged alphabetically, and its companion website offers pedagogical tips for reshuffling its contents in the classroom. Greg Garrard’s indispensable Ecocriticism organizes the field into thematic strands, articulating parameters through key terms (“Apocalypse” “Animals” “Pollution” “Wilderness” “Pastoral”).[15] The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism, which Garrard edited, offers a more gregarious and open surveying of contours and possibilities for the field.[16] Yet every such guide demands a foundational principle of order: arrangement by time period, discipline, alphabet, genre, topic. The burgeoning number of readers, companions, handbooks, and research guides that attempt to gather the environmental humanities into a comprehensive volume risk obscuring the turbulence, plurality, and proliferativeness which they reflect and enact.[17] Rather than explicate terms so that we can ensure “that we get our lexical and conceptual bearings straight,” rather than articulate lasting boundaries for ecocritical significations, this collection follows a slightly different path, accompanying some ecologically rich if at times rather unlikely verbs, companioning their trajectories, seeing where they lead when they perturb disciplines, thresholds, domains, dialects.[18] Against a humanities that too often becomes a war of the words, we hope for a shared ethics of veering, a turning towards and with that entails deep attunement to human and nonhuman thriving.

COMPANION (“to accompany, even when difficult”)
Keys are good tools. They unlock and explain. A companion does not necessarily unbolt anything, and will not likely provide quick access to a storehouse of provisions or knowledge. Yet a good companion will hold open hospitable doors, invite conversation, wander with you along unexpected paths. Companion is a reliable verb.
You seem like you are having a lot of fun. So stated an audience member at a conference panel we arranged for the project that preceded this volume, Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water and Fire.[19] We were pleased that the critical conviviality propelling that collaboration was palpable -- and we hope that a similar joy in working together is evident in this anthology. We trust that our happiness in shared venture does not obscure the seriousness or urgency of the themes contemplated. Collaboration involves challenge -- and the contributors to this book pushed us, repeatedly, to do better: refine our terms, embrace new ambits or disrupt old ones, contemplate possibilities and limits. The twenty-nine essays, foreword and afterword arose from sustained conversation. Our invitation to contribute to Veer Ecology arrived in the mailbox of each contributor with a list of suggested verbs, only some of which were welcomed. Several authors chose their own verbs, or realized that a verb had chosen them. Some changed their verbs before or after their essay was complete, so far had trajectories veered from origins. We warned our contributors that their verbs would want to become nouns, freezing into concepts rather than transporting the unexpected. “Watch out for that peril,” we wrote, “and veer rather than stabilize -- but other than that, feel free to be as creative and provocative as you wish.” We never policed, but we did push, wonder with, and companion. We found that those who wrote for and with us brought Veer Ecology along trajectories we could not have predicted. Lines whirled into spirals, coils became rhizomes. The ethos we attempted to cultivate was one of intensification, a building together of fugitive havens for thoughts that might not thrive in solitude. In these days of narcissistic nationalisms, closed borders, gated communities, human-engineered ecological disaster, resourcism, and neoliberal bigotry, we are attempting to place a little more motion into concepts like home and haven. The essays offer a series of capacious hearths around which communities of humans and nonhumans might cluster, to shade themselves or find a roof against the weather when it rains, maybe even to remember some sustaining stories. Shelter is a necessary verb.
The welcome we extend opens a door through which unexpected things will pass, including some monsters. In an ancient but weirdly contemporary poem about fire, ecology, refuge, and entanglement, Grendel invades the hall of Heorot because its music -- its foundational story and divine place setting -- excludes him, leaves his family to roam a distant moor, to inhabit a sunken home. Example and warning, a monster not so different from the community that built its timber walls against him, Grendel smashes doors, benches and tables. His havoc is unsettling, making a mess of what had been hierarchy and order. But he also brings an inexcluded outside within, an unwanted change of climate to spur a community to think more deeply about the limits it imposes, to contemplate sustained violence, the drowning of those declared off a nation’s maps. In retelling the medieval tale it is difficult not to behold the shape of economies and ecologies to come. So let us overturn the epistemological tables -- or at least allow unexpected guests their seats. Admit that any shelter is likely to prove temporary, so enable the place by the fire to be capacious, community difficult, admittance and sustenance just.
The varied contributions to this book offer seismic, somewhat spontaneous definitions of ecology: not a perfected house that walls the project, but a trans-historical hostel of in/human agents, a lively commons taking shape around a portable hearth. A “companion,” Donna Haraway observes, is someone to break bread with [cum panis], a messmate.[20] We love tables that welcome and homes that invite. We also love the making that happens around the fire, the leavening and enlivening. This ecology or open house or mobile hearth is a space in which we experiment rather than consume, where we share story and song rather than arrange ourselves into a hierarchy of prearranged seating. A commons must welcome more than human and animal guests. Interspecies and ecomaterial, parasitical and hospitable, a commons as shared refuge includes the ingredients and the debris, airborne yeast and insects, the bread and its crumbs, the ants and the rats, a perturbed ecology in which to dwell. Intellectual, physical, material and social energy propels these endeavors, threatens to exhaust, potentially disempowers. Welcome to the whirled, a crowded place where we power down, eat together, speak together, story together in gyred conviviality, limned by disaster.

SPIRAL (“to move forward by curving back”)
Rotation occurs around an axis, a center that may wander. From inside the whirl it is difficult to know if motion is inwards or outwards, a loosening or a tightening. Things move apart and thereby touch other things. Ends become beginnings and contiguities proliferate. Roland Barthes once declared of spirals that inside their trajectories “nothing is first yet everything is new,” by which he also meant nothing is last and everything is already ancient.[21] Time is a complicated verb.
What a whirligig: forwards and backwards, here and elsewhere at once. Spirals are the topography of perspective shift. To see the world from multiple viewpoints curves senses into motion. Propulsion can offer a falling behind, a sudden touching of history thought long surpassed.

RECYCLE REPURPOSE RESTORY (“to rework a mantra”)
Recycle. Three arrows fold in upon each other, their trajectory an eternal loop. Designed by college student Gary Anderson and intended to represent a Moebius strip, the Universal Recycling Symbol is a corporately sponsored, public domain figure for how to dwell sustainably within a closed system. Re-cycle. In the Pacific Ocean a gyre of trash spins, aping that rotation a little too literally while challenging the assumption that environmental cycles can remain closed. The apposition of these two ecological circlings suggests that sustaining our current modes of existence is neither possible nor desirable.[22] The universal recycling symbol conveys the spin of a system in which everything supposedly remains inside; recycling means using obsolescing things over and over with no waste, no exterior, like a nation that imagines itself behind a secure wall. A turbulent whirl of debris, the Pacific gyre spins with the actual vectors of waste and profligacy that propel contemporary capitalism, a whirlpool global in scale, open and toxic.[23] Love child of petroleum culture run amok, plastic is outsourced for recycling but keeps coming back, churned through border and bodily crossings.[24] As pellets and microtoxins, this waste inhabits the bodies of fish, seeps into human and animal bodies, litters shores. The refuse of industrial nations clings to lands only imagined as distant, the “away” to which unwanted things are “thrown.”[25] Rocks, hills, even islands sediment from unwanted “landfill,” because some spaces are too full of discarded objects and substances, sent out of sight and attention, globalizing the local. The Pacific Garbage Patch is a spiral of slow churning violence, the bending together of a series of transfer stations that aim to obscure the transits of waste, a “patch” that does not mend its harms but exposes its wounds, a matterphor for unwanted ecological intimacies.[26] Recycle too easily greenwashes, commodifies, obscures its motivating imperatives consume and forget. A mantra of enmeshment becomes a motto for malfeasance. We convince ourselves that our trash must surely be a treasure for others. So we send it to them: corporate outsourcing, the offloading of a heavy burden in the guise of a virtuous circle. Behind the closed circle of the recycling symbol is a maelstrom of accident and intention, a relentless vortex that materializes through violent gathering the torrid entanglement of things, porous zones, forceful global currents, the agency of matter and elemental forces in drift. Matter is storied.[27] No system is closed. Environ is a troubling verb.

Repurpose. We are not against recycling. We cannot dismiss any practice that reduces ecological harm, that decreases environmental injustice, that assists the arrival of less toxic futures. Nor are we against being green. But the spectrum holds a diversity of hues, many of which human eyes cannot perceive. All are ecological.[28] The grounds from the coffee that fueled these sentences will soon be atop a compost pile, the paper bag that held the beans deposited in a bin for transport to a facility that will render its fibers into something else. But we do not suppose that because the bag and the “fair trade” grounds have been recycled that we are off any hooks. Because “we shape the world through living,” we always want to know better the intimacy of small choices to larger networks of possibility and harm, and to make better collective and individual choices.[29] Although well intentioned, the Universal Recycling Symbol is a bounded system, a gated community. Too often we aspire to enact some version of its call to plenty and to closure, striving towards an exclusive totality that to sustain its endless cycling imposes a high a price upon “offsite” humans and nonhumans alike.[30] We want to open re-cycling systems to the gyres that underlay their motion. Matter may be transferred, transported, thrown to some unthought away, but matter does not disappear.
Neither does story. Restore might be repurposed to mean “re-activate and intensify story.” Linear histories and crystalline origin myths anchor the world we know in a world that has always been. As shelters they are always too small. They delimit and justify exclusive community. Counter-narratives make such stories spin: books of beginnings over a single Book of Genesis, vegetating chaos over walled and perfect gardens. Reverse could mean: decorate, magnify lyricism, unmoor aesthetic force from the merely human. Re-versing counters narrative forces of containment, opens meager and ungenerous homes to widened refuge. Skew story. Companion the plot twists. Veer Ecology gathers a historically diverse archive because we have a hunch that the re-story-ation of the world will be aided by a return to narratives and modes of thought that carelessly relegated to the dust heap of the past.[31] This “heap” is actually a teeming site (matter does not disappear) for activating new possibilities, for re-framing more capacious futures in a time of austerity, catastrophe, and the widespread inflicting of harm. Turn back to forge ahead. We are not speaking about retrieving all things lost, but renewing how we story, all together. Haunt is distantly related to home.[32] Rather than forget or abandon, we might try to slow down, engage, attend heavy weights and long waits, contemplate more to act better. Resilience is not a stiffening against but a bending towards, a winding up with others.

VEER (“to anthologize unexpectedly”)
Nothing in good order, everything in motion, weird, ardent, curving. “Desire,” Nicholas Royle writes, “is a veering thing.”[33] Veering things are in turn saturated with revolutionary desire. Veer is therefore the difficult verb we have chosen to place not only in our book’s title but here in lieu of an ending, hoping it will convey an unsettling motion that inheres within all ecological thinking. To veer is to gather (anthologize) unlikely but passionate companions, and in that sudden community to hope.[34] To veer is to enlarge, to break closed circles into spirals, to collect for a while, to dwell in revolution.
This collection of essays is meant to affirm an ongoing project of inclusivity. Widened belonging is seldom comfortable. Our contributors render snug habitations strange, opening them to a world agentic and wide. The curving trajectories of veer do not abandon the past. Reduce, reuse, recycle: these are words for matter, words that matter. As imperatives to a less oppressive mode of dwelling we take them seriously, even as our collaborators find their kin in some less conventionally ecological verbs. We do not aspire to complete, transcend, or otherwise leave behind the academic and activist work that has laid the foundation for an ecotheory anthology. This companion would not have been possible without the challenges of queer theory, environmental justice, ecofeminism, indigenous studies, or any other interrogator of how limited the human in the humanities has too often proven. Veer Ecology collects beneath the fugitive refuge of its covers some shared labor, some provisional attempts to follow the ecological trajectories of linguistic organisms, especially as vectors of disanthropocentric story. To behold the summons and provocations of the worldly and nonhuman agencies that thrum within narrative requires the estranging of what has become too familiar, the widening of our house, its widening or repurposing, sometimes its abandonment, always the building of wider sanctuary, a refuge for ecologies in wandering motion.
The thirty-one contributions that follow offer an anthology of verbs that spiral and gather. Companion us. Welcome to the whirled.

Table of Contents: Titles into Story

Foreword: Cheryll Glotfelty

Introduction: Welcome to the Whirled

Catriona Sandilands
Jesse Oak Taylor 
Tobias Menely
Power Down
Joseph Campana
Margaret Ronda 
Daniel C. Remein 
Cord Whitaker
Julian Yates
Serpil Oppermann
Timothy Morton 
Stephanie LeMenager
Vin Nardizzi
Brian Thill
Lowell Duckert
Mick Smith
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
Coll Thrush
Steve Mentz
Laura Ogden
Serenella Iovino
Christopher Schaberg
      J. Allan Mitchell
Holly Dugan and Scott Maisano
Rebecca Scott
Anne Harris
Stacy Alaimo
Tim Ingold
Lara Farina
Teresa Shewry

Afterword (On the Veer): Nicholas Royle

[1] Inspirational to us in this project has been the work -- and the encouragement -- of Jane Bennett, whose sustained attention to matter’s agency as a project both political and ethical inspired our first collaboration together. See The Enchantment of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings and Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001) and Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).
[2] Our relation to queer ecological studies is more than homophonic; we are deeply indebted in the framing of this project to work like Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, eds. Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands and Bruce Erickson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010); Stacy Alaimo, Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (Bloomington: Indiana University Press 2010); Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012). Alaimo articulates a “queer, green redefinition of deviance, which casts it as the generative force of life itself” (139; the influence of Alaimo’s notion of trans-corporeality will be evident later in this introduction as well). We are also grateful to Chris Piuma for coining of the word “qveer,” an inspiration to this book’s veering embraces.
[3] Donna J. Haraway famously describes this disembodied perspective as the “god trick” in “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies 14.3 (1988): 575-99.
[4] Inspired by the fondness of Isabelle Stengers, Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway for variations on the word cosmos, Jamie Lorimer writes hopefully of the advent of a Cosmoscene which “would begin when modern humans became aware of the impossibility of extricating themselves the earth and started to take responsibility for the world in which they lived.” See Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015) 4. While we agree with Lorimer in principle, we see this Cosmoscene as something that has long existed within human perception, so that future making mandates a project of renewal, return, and re-story-ation. For such entanglement in action see Laura A. Ogden, Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
[5] “So forget the word environment … [I]t assumes that we humans are at the center of a system of nature” (Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, trans. Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson [Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1995] 33).
[6] We have explored the shape of elemental ecocriticism as a vortex in “Eleven Principles of the Elements,” the introduction to Elemental Ecocriticism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press) 1-26; we are attempting an even wider topography of ecological reading through the form here.
[7] On the “mess” as fecund gathering, see J. Allan Mitchell, Becoming Human: The Matter of the Medieval Child (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014). On the “messmate” and companioning, see Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).
[8] On emergence, “unexpected detours and happy accidents” as a careering vector inherent to nature see Eben Kirksey, Emergent Ecologies (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015).
[9] See Jean E. Feerick and Vin Nardizzi’s introduction to The Indistinct Human in Renaissance Literature (2012), for example, “Swervings: On Human Indistinction”: We see it as our burden to create a useful roadmap for these essays while encouraging and facilitating a reading practice that bends--or swerves across--our own categories, parts, and pairings” (6). As Steve Mentz puts it in Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization, 1550-1719 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), “No island is an island” (51).
[10] On the enduring effects of the American creation of “wild” space upon the people of color long excluded from them, for example, see Carolyn Finney, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014). These lasting divisions also tend to be far more exclusive than they seem, with the “riotous presence” of those who are not Christian and male being foundationally excluded by big ecological terms like “Human.” Obscured stories of entanglement are essential to thinking beyond some of the impasses such bifurcations have established. See especially Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing,The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).
[11] Tim Ingold’s thoughts on the “weather-world” animate our words. See Chapters 9 and 10 in Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (New York: Routledge, 2011).
[12] Nicholas Royle’s term is “wordlife” in Veering: A Theory of Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011).
[13] Raymond Williams, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) xxxvii.
[14] Keywords for Environmental Studies, ed. Joni Adamson, William A. Gleason, and David N. Pellow (New York: New York University Press, 2016).
[15] Ecocriticism (New York: Routledge, 2012), 2nd edition.
[16] The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism, ed. Greg Garrard (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
[17] The sheer number of such collections makes an exhaustive list impossible, but some which have been essential to our framing of this introduction include The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology, ed. Cheryll Glotfelty and Harold Fromm (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996); The Green Studies Reader: From Romanticism to Ecocriticism, ed. Laurence Coupe (London: Routledge, 2000), The ISLE Reader: Ecocriticism, 1993-2003, ed. Michael P. Branch and Scott Slovic (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003); Timothy Clark, The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and the Environment, ed. Louise Westling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Material Feminisms, ed. Stacy Alaimo and Susan Hekman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008); and Ecocriticism: The Essential Reader, ed. Ken Hiltner (New York: Routledge, 2015).
[18] Quotation is from the foreword by Lawrence Buell to Keywords for Environmental Studies, ed. Joni Adamson, William A. Gleason and David Pellow viii. See also Buell’s prescient The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005).
[19] The comment was made by Jesse Oak Taylor at the MLA convention in Austin (2016), and was meant to capture the general sense of pleasure in shared thinking, even during a time of great ecological crisis, that the presenters evinced.
[20] And as a verb, Haraway writes in her rich exploration of what inheres in companion, the word means “‘to consort, to keep company,’ with sexual and generative connotations always ready to erupt”: When Species Meet 17.
[21] Quoted in Nico Israel, Spirals: The Whirled Image in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015), 22. It is also Israel’s point about a spiral’s ambiguous -- both centrifugal and centripedal -- turn: “Does the spiral travel outward from the fixed point, thereby increasing its distance from that point, or curve inward, diminishing that distance?” (23). He has helped us frame what a spiral does in and beyond the twentieth century.
[22] See especially the cluster of essays on “Sustainability” in PMLA 127.3 (2012) 558-606.
[23] For Israel, spirals “assert their relation to the geopolitical...turning...both in toward itself to observe its own torsions and out to the ‘globe’ (41). Local-global “eco-cosmopolitanism” is the topic of Ursula K. Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).
[24] For a smart of reading of petroleum ardor and energy’s deep costs see Stephanie LeMenager, Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
[25] Timothy Morton’s point in The Ecological Thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010): “We can’t throw empty cans into the ocean anymore and just pretend they have gone ‘away.’ Likewise, we can’t kick the ecological can into the future and pretend it’s gone ‘away’” (119).
[26] We have in mind here the work of Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011).
[27] See “Introduction: Stories Come to Matter” by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann in Material Ecocriticism, ed. Iovino and Oppermann (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014) 1-17. As collaborators and fellow travelers Iovino and Oppermann are constant inspirations to our own projects.
[28] On this topic see Prismatic Ecology: Ecotheory beyond Green, ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
[29] Quotation from Jedediah Purdy’s After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015) 22. Purdy argues for a critical engagement with the long human histories of making nature “real” that have disastrously shaped contemporary landscapes.
[30] Serenella Iovino writes compellingly of how place contemporary ecotheory must think place as entanglement. Drawing on Ursula Heise’s notion of “ecocosmopolitanism” and Stacy Alaimo’s “trans-corporeality” (among others) to argue that “we are at once here and elsewhere; vice versa, what affects the life of other places and beings has unsuspected reverberations in space and time, eventually touching our bodies and backyards, too” (Ecocriticism and Italy: Ecology, Resistance and Liberation [London: Bloomsbury, 2016] 2).
[31] David Macauley discusses “re-story-ation” in Elemental Philosophy: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water As Environmental Ideas (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010), 5.
[32] Cf. Nicholas Royle’s notion of “visiting” in “Veerer: Where Ghosts Live” (Chapter 8 of Veering).
[33] “To desire, to fear, to desire to fear, to fear to desire: veering” (Veering, 197).
[34] “Anthology,” etymologically a “flower collection” in Greek (from anthos-, “flower,” and -logia, “collection”) later denoted a gathering of verses by various authors. To “anthologize,” we offer, could also mean to gather ecopoetics with political potential. Through “passionate” we hope to convey what Tobias Meneley describes as cross-species “passion as an opening to the world and an openness to the passion of others” (The Animal Claim: Sensibility and the Creaturely Voice [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015) 31.

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