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Environment and Fiction

Critical Readings

Edited By Özden Sözalan and Inci Bilgin Tekin

The essays in this volume engage with questions concerning the relationships between fictional texts and environmental issues in their various articulations, and offer critical readings that display the theoretical diversity in the current reconsiderations of the place of human in relation to nature and the environment. Written by scholars working in separate yet closely related disciplines in the field of humanities, the essays present analyses of literary and cultural texts, performed with the critical tools provided by studies in ecology, ecofeminism, urban studies, posthumanism and animal studies as well as genre-specific approaches.

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An Old Debate, New Perspectives: Cherrie Moraga’s and Caryl Churchill’s Dialogues with Nature (İnci Bilgin Tekin)

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İnci Bilgin Tekin

“On or about December 1910 human nature changed” as the celebrated feminist writer Virginia Woolf notes in her comprehensive essay “Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown”, published in 1924. Woolf’s observation is directly linked to the rise of modernism which is both the consequence and reinforcer of technology and urbanization. From classical antiquity to romanticism, from neo-classicism to modernism, literary history has reflected man’s attempts to understand “nature” in a strong dialogue with its supposed opposite “culture”, which is innately man-made. To recall the great Romantic poet William Wordsworth who vividly describes the post-industrialization experience:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;-

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! (L 1–4)

As Wordsworth’s lines imply, alienation from nature ends up in self-alienation. Obsessed with finding means to control its supposedly antagonist, nature, man has reinforced industrialization over and over without noticing his loss of connection with his own earthly roots.

Rising in the 21st century, ecocriticism basically criticizes this wholly “anthropocentric” process which Timothy Clark relates to viewing the world as a potential “resource” for human beings. (2) In other words, ecocriticism makes a call for rethinking the environment outside human-centered contexts.

The classical association of “nature” with women and “culture” with men, can be traced to Greek mythology...

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