Sunday, January 28, 2018

Adam J. Goldwyn, Byzantine Ecocriticism

by J J Cohen

Among the many benefits of the slow de-centering of Europe when it comes to the study of the Middle Ages -- so that even when a project concentrates upon a single geography, the flows of people and animals and goods and even weather that connected it to a wider world must be better accounted for -- is that medievalists are reading more broadly than they used to. A major contribution to expanding shared conversation, especially around the topics foregrounded by the environmental humanities, is Adam J. Goldwyn's brilliant new book Byzantine Ecocriticism: Women, Nature, and Power in the Medieval Greek Romance.

Here is the back cover synopsis (which perhaps does not convey how capacious the ambit of the volume is):
Byzantine Ecocriticism: Women, Nature, and Power in the Medieval Greek Romance applies literary ecocriticism to the imaginative fiction of the Greek world from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. Through analyses of hunting, gardening, bride-stealing, and warfare, Byzantine Ecocriticism exposes the attitudes and behaviors that justified human control over women, nature, and animals; the means by which such control was exerted; and the anxieties surrounding its limits. Adam Goldwyn thus demonstrates the ways in which intersectional ecocriticism, feminism, and posthumanism can be applied to medieval texts, and illustrates how the legacies of medieval and Byzantine environmental practice and ideology continue to be relevant to contemporary ecological and environmental concerns.
And here is my blurb for the book. I was very happy to endorse Goldwyn's work.
Lucid, compelling, and immensely learned, Byzantine Ecocriticism advances multiple fields at once: medieval studies, the environmental humanities, and critical animal studies. Examining with great brio materials that have yet to have been interpreted within a frame that underscores the agency of the nonhuman, this book is a needed addition to the growing body scholarship on the complexities of nature in the Middle Ages.
Anyone working on medieval ecocriticism will want to read this book. It is too expensive, as Palgrave books nearly always are (even the Kindle version is way overpriced) -- but this would be a good to have your library order on your behalf.

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