Science, wonder, and new nature writing

Rachel Carson

Authored by: Saskia Beudel

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:


 Download Chapter



Writer, scientist and activist Rachel Carson proposed that wonder had a redeeming role to play during an age of escalating environmental destruction. For her, wonder was an integral part of scientific inquiry. This was an open-ended wonder in a Socratic tradition, which fostered not only a sense of appreciation and gratitude for everyday processes and objects of the natural world but also a deeper scientific understanding of that world. As such, it was a powerful check to what she called a lust for destruction. Pioneering any kind of new literature in the field of the natural sciences, or nature writing, thus involved conveying and communicating a participatory wonder from beyond the privileged domain of the scientist to a broader non-specialist audience. This chapter suggests that evoking and awakening wonder was a civic responsibility for Carson. It formed a subtle mode of pre-emptive or anticipatory activism, which foreclosed an inclination toward destruction before it occurred. Her writing distilled, synthesized and communicated complex scientific knowledge from across a range of disciplines in order to impel a sense of wonder in broad public audiences.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.