Nature writing in the Anthropocene

Authored by: Christian Hummelsund Voie

Routledge Handbook of Ecocriticism and Environmental Communication

Print publication date:  February  2019
Online publication date:  February  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138053137
eBook ISBN: 9781315167343
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues for the importance of the genre of American nature writing as one of the most vital forms of environmental communication at present. With its capacity for presenting the best available science through lyrical and engaged nonfiction, nature writing is an ideally suited form of literature for addressing and communicating the environmental complexities of the present in comprehensible, but effective, ways geared towards engendering awareness, change and engagement. Nature writing is itself changing in radical ways under the pressure of the large-scale environmental changes signaled in terms such as the Anthropocene. This chapter explores contemporary nature writing as a form of environmental communication uniquely adapted to the Anthropocene, with particular emphasis on its five main features: scientific interest in the function of ecosystems; interest in the agency of matter rendered through what is referred to as material nature writing; the dignification of the overlooked; the environmental landscape of fear; and a turn in the genre towards matters of environmental justice.

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