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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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The Function of Criticism. A Response to William Major and Andrew McMurry’s Editorial1 Roman Bartosch (Cologne) and Greg Garrard (Bath Spa) It was with what they called “desperate optimism” that William Major and Andrew McMurry assessed the “function of ecocriticism” in the last issue of the Journal of Ecocriticism (1). It is with the same desperate optimism that we are writing this short response—coming from two distinct ‘branches’ of ecocriticism, if you will, but sharing a commitment to debate and dialog, as well as the experience of a recent conference, of which we will speak later. Fortunately, and despite their ostensible dislike for “words upon words” vis-à- vis the more pressing question “What is to be done?” (1), Major and McMurry behave like exemplary humanist scholars in that they self-critically reflect on their field of academic praxis, the relevance of our studies and, as they put it, the connection “between the library cannel and the Greenland ice shield” (1). It is therefore in the same vein that we would like to propose a response. This response will entail – a reflection on the role of theory and the idea of a linear relation between ecocriticism and the real world (yes, we are saying it, too!) – a discussion of the potential of ecocriticism once it is released from the pressing apocalypticism of urgency and immediate practicability, and a discussion of the straw specter of the Humanist – some remarks on the educational implications of these ideas. One reason for our response...

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