Re-Imagining the Limits of the Human
Table Of Contents
- Title Page
- Copyright Page
- About the editors
- About the book
- Citability of the eBook
- List of Contributors
- 1 Towards Environmental Research: A New Mission of Comparative Studies
- 2 Beyond “the Calculus of Probability”: Environment and Ecopoetics in Novels by Amitav Ghosh and Margaret Atwood
- 3 Animals, Environmental Justice and Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello
- 4 “Dressed Like Stars in the Blades of Night”: On Lisa Jarnot’s Poetics of Nonhuman Animals
- 5 A Very Fretful Porpentine: Writing the Animal in Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine
- 6 What Do Animals Dream about? An Eco-ethical Perspective on Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams
- 7 Shakespeare and European Dendro-Identity
- 8 From the Garden City to Eco-Urbanism and Community Gardening
- 9 The Posthuman Vision of Philip K. Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- 10 A Goddess or a Cyborg? Women, Nature, Spirituality and Technology in Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood (2009)
Shruti Das (Berhampur University, Odisha, India)
Olha Dovbush (Ternopil Volodymyr Hnatyuk National Pedagogical University, Ukraine)
Beata Kiersnowska (University of Rzeszów, Poland)
Gilbert McInnis (University College of the North, Canada)
Robin MacKenzie (University of St. Andrews, Scotland)
Tanuja K. Nayak (Independent researcher, Odisha, India)
Monika Sosnowska (University of Łódź, Poland)
Mark Tardi (University of Łódź, Poland)
John Thieme (University of East Anglia, England)
Oksana Weretiuk (University of Rzeszów, Poland)
Paula Wieczorek (University of Rzeszów, Poland)
Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man is one of the most widely recognizable symbols of the anthropocentric humanism, which demonstrated an interest in the individual and in his body as a cosmografia del minor mondo. Indicating the perfection of human beings, this form of iconography also suggested their completeness and thus autonomy, which predestined them to be the masters of the larger world. Half a millennium later, theories of posthumanism have started to question this perspective on human beings, proposing a more porous and inclusive definition of man. As the idea of the central role of man in the world is challenged, people also acknowledge their co-determining relationship with the environment and technology, seeing themselves as part of a continuum of biological life on the one hand, and as technological beings by definition on the other.
At the same time, environmental studies focus on the opposite side of the human-environment relationship, studying ways in which human activity causes broadly-understood environmental problems. Seen from this perspective, human beings are considered to constitute just one of the elements of a larger ecosystem and, as a result, their claim to a privileged position in the world – allowing for the pursuit of their goals based on the unrestrained exploitation of the natural environment – is undermined.
The concerns of posthumanism and environmental studies could be seen as overlapping to some extent with those of postcolonial theory. The ideology of colonialism often appropriated the humanist ideal but limited it to the race of masters, justifying in this way their dominion. Actively dehumanizing subjugated peoples, the colonizing power placed them in the same category as the natural world which it held to be open for exploitation.
As postcolonial theory focuses on the way in which groups define themselves through strategies of inclusion and exclusion – including the ideal of humanism – it seems only natural that in a time of broader reflection upon the normative boundaries of the human and the role of people in the world, the field of interest of postcolonial theory should be extended to include (potential) forms of discrimination and exploitation that, until the present moment, have remained under the radar.
The present volume titled Re-imagining the Limits of the Humans is a collection of ten essays, all of which – from a variety of perspectives – touch upon the question of how the understanding of what is human has changed in the twenty-first century. The authors, exploring the intersection between postcolonial ←9 | 10→theory, posthumanism and environmental studies, provide a wider reflection concerned with the changing perception of the human in the contemporary world and examine its literary representation.
The volume opens with an introductory essay of a theoretical nature, titled “Towards Environmental Research: A New Mission of Comparative Studies”, authored by Oksana Weretiuk. The article focuses on the function of comparative studies in an age of rapid environmental and social change, in a period of rethinking the ontological exceptionality of the human and discusses the special mission of comparative studies in the paradigm of environmental humanities (also ecological humanities). In the article which follows, titled “Beyond ‘the Calculus of Probability’: Environment and Ecopoetics in Novels by Amitav Ghosh and Margaret Atwood” John Thieme compares Amitav Ghosh’s response to environmental issues in The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016) and two of his novels, The Circle of Reason (1986) and The Hungry Tide (2004), with the politics and poetics of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian MaddAddam trilogy (2003–2013). The discussion focuses on the two writers’ treatment of three areas: the consequences of global warming, changing human-animal relations in the Age of the Anthropocene and the political economy of oil.
Chapters Three to Six include essays which examine a variety of literary texts with reference to animal studies. Shruti Das and Tanuja K. Nayak’s “Animals, Environmental Justice and Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello” is devoted to the issues of environmental justice and injustice as referred to in J. M. Coetzee’s 2004 novel. As the authors argue, Coetzee raises certain critical questions in his fiction by denouncing the modern day mentality of treating Nature as “a storage bin of natural resources” or “raw materials” meant for human pleasure. The article proposes a close reading of Elizabeth Costello, aiming to show that Coetzee advocates environmental justice rather than anthropocentrism. The next essay, namely Mark Tardi’s “‘Dressed Like Stars in the Blades of Night’: On Lisa Jarnot’s Poetics of Nonhuman Animals” seeks to examine what the larger social and ethical implications are in American poet Lisa Jarnot continually (re-)presenting a wide range of nonhuman animals in her poems. The author analyses the way in which Jarnot deploys recursive structures and anthropomorphic actions in her poems to toggle between playful humour and ethical confrontation. Another article rooted in animal studies is Robin MacKenzie’s “A Very Fretful Porpentine: Writing the Animal in Alain Mabanckou’s Memoirs of a Porcupine.” The author examines the representation of nonhuman animals in the 2006 Congolese novel, which, featuring an animal narrator and drawing on elements from animal fable, offers fertile terrain for exploring tensions and convergences between postcolonial and animal studies. Olha Dovbush’s “What ←10 | 11→do Animals Dream about? An Eco-ethical Perspective on Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal Dreams” is devoted to the actualization of the principles of ecocriticism in modern literary discourse by establishing the specifics of the implementation of the fundamentals of the theory in Kingsolver’s 1991 novel.
- ISBN (PDF)
- ISBN (ePUB)
- ISBN (MOBI)
- ISBN (Hardcover)
- Publication date
- 2019 (April)
- Ecocriticism Anthropocene Posthumanism Ecopoetics Environmental justice Postcolonial studies
- Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 143 pp., 4 fig. b/w