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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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Teaching Cultural Ecology from German Romanticism to the Present: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Gottfried Keller, and W.G. Sebald


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Teaching Cultural Ecology from German Romanticism to the Present E.T.A. Hoffmann, Gottfried Keller, and W.G. Sebald

Sieglinde Grimm (Cologne)

In Homer’s myths we learn about the adventures of Ulysses. Ulysses escapes the cyclop Polyphem by naming himself ‘Nobody’ and thus hiding his identity (9.365). On another occasion, he asks his seamen to tie him to the ship’s mast so that he cannot fall for the sirens’ sweet songs (12.160-200). Ulysses’ cunning marks the beginning of human self-assertion. He uses reason to control his bodily desires, but this is not to be had for nothing. According to Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s reading of Ulysses, human nature has since run into a negative dialectics: “Any attempt to break the compulsion of nature by breaking nature only succumbs more deeply to that compulsion. Thus has been the trajectory of European civilization” (Horkheimer & Adorno [1947] 2002: 9). As the debate about ecological crises shows (cf. Riordan 2004: 48; Wanning 2006: 244; Schmidt-Hannisa 2007: 37),1 this dialectics is still at work today. Cunning and deceit as the inevitable by-products of rationality help man to survive; however, this survival can only be achieved at the expense of the individuality of human nature itself, as Ulysses’ self-denial indicates. By calling himself ‘Nobody’ he erases his individual nature. Literary narratives and poetry often reflect the dialectics of the human desire to control nature and the problematic risks this desire involves for human nature itself. Ecocritical readings, concerned...

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