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Teaching Environments

Ecocritical Encounters

Edited By Roman Bartosch and Sieglinde Grimm

The essays in this collection seek to bring together current developments in ecocriticism and the pedagogical practice of teaching English at all levels, from primary schools to Higher Education. They cover theoretical and practical discussions of the nexus between the sciences and the humanities and maintain that the notion of the two cultures be refused for good, they argue for the inclusion of particular texts or theoretical perspectives, and they suggest ways to teaching environments on different levels of language competence and in the context of historical and transdisciplinary encounters with ecology, nature, and animals. Despite this variety, they share some common threads and engage with questions that are highly relevant for teaching in general and have acquired even more relevance in our rapidly changing and posthumanist teaching environments: How do we raise consciousness without preaching? What kind of critical attitude is required for the empowerment of our pupils and students? How do we actually imagine encounters between the sciences and the (post)humanities, and which texts, what kind of texts, and which approaches will prove most fruitful?


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Transdisciplinary Encounters II: Historizing Environmental Discourse


The Fall of Man and the Corruption of Nature: A Medieval Perspective Haiko Wandhoff (Berlin) It seems quite obvious that ecological thinking and, more specifically, ‘ecocriticism’ is a modern or even postmodern notion. However, the historical roots of our ecological crisis might be deeper than it appears at first glance (White 1996). Ecological thinking—according to the relevant handbooks—has developed as a reaction to the ongoing damage done to the natural environment by Western industrialization throughout the past 200 years (see the survey provided by Glotfelty and Fromm 1996; Cronon 1995). In the pre-modern era, man’s consumption of nature and destruction of the environment in most cases was not considered problematic, although, for instance, in the high and late Middle Ages major parts of Southern Spain were deforested to build up a maritime fleet. In northern Europe, too, there was a threatening increase of alluviation and soil erosion caused by a significant population growth and the conversion of woodland to arable land as well as mining territory. In the year 1285, for instance, “London had a smog problem arising from the burning of soft coal” (White 1996: 5). It was only in the 18th century, however, that the destruction of the natural environment became a topic of philosophical and scientific discourse. Exactly 300 years ago, the term Nachhaltigkeit (“sustainability”) made its first appearance in a German treatise on wood farming. In 1713, Carl Carlowitz, a mining industry official, published a book in which he demands a new and sustainable...

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