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Eating America: Crisis, Sustenance, Sustainability


Justyna Kociatkiewicz, Laura Suchostawska and Dominika Ferens

This volume of essays examines the relationship between eating and crisis. The United States’ long-lasting economic and cultural hegemony raises a number of questions: Has America been – literally and metaphorically – eating, appropriating, exploiting, and molding the world in its own image, or has it been eaten, appropriated, and exploited as a (frequently criticized or disdained) source of ideas, ideology, and knowledge? What is the relation between the current ecological crisis and America’s consumerist economy, with its practices of food production and consumption, and its use of natural resources? What is America’s role in the ongoing crisis of modernity? And, if the crisis continues, where are the sources of sustenance?
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Thoreau and the Indians, or a Crisis of the American Ideals of the Wild and Wilderness: Laura Suchostawska


The American model of life in the wild was problematic from the very beginning, as the gradual conquest of the wilderness by white settlers finally led to its disappearance. Henry David Thoreau’s writings exhibit the contradictions inherent in the idea of the wilderness, of which most of his contemporaries were not aware. Thoreau’s life and views are in turn evoked in Arnold Krupat’s novel Woodsmen, or Thoreau and the Indians (1979), which demonstrates that the ideal of living in the wild has become even more unfeasible in contemporary America. The crisis of the past models of life “in the woods,” whether of Thoreauvian or Native American origins, revealed by Krupat in his novel, demonstrates the necessity of abandoning the myths of life in the wild and looking for new, more sustainable and socially just ways of life and of land use.

Greg Garrard argues that wilderness is a notion specifically characteristic of the New World, where settlers from Europe encountered vast areas of land which, in contrast to Europe, had not been significantly altered by human activity (60). Another idea closely related to that of the American wilderness is that of the West or the frontier. The combination of “two imperial ideals – ‘the West’ and ‘the Wilderness’ – has framed, plotted and empowered a landscape of expansion and development over the course of North American history” (Chisholm 67). The myth of the West appeared at the time when the frontier had already disappeared, and its beginnings are associated with...

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