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The Disposition of NatureEnvironmental Crisis and World Literature$
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Jennifer Wenzel

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823286782

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823286782.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Reading for the Planet

Reading for the Planet

Chapter:
(p.1) Introduction Reading for the Planet
Source:
The Disposition of Nature
Author(s):

Jennifer Wenzel

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823286782.003.0001

The introduction situates world literature and the Anthropocene as instances of broader dynamics of world-imagining and a recent shift toward the global as a scale of analysis. It offers an expanded narrative of globalization, by looking back to moments of capitalist expansion that precede neoliberalism and by recognizing the environment (particularly in colonial peripheries) as globalization’s material condition of possibility as well as its product. Describing the book’s interdisciplinary approach to cultural imagining and environmental crisis, the introduction shows how understandings of nature are mediated by literary tropes and narrative forms and genres in way that precede and exceed representation in any particular text; cultural logics shape what counts as nature or crisis. Therefore, a facility with the literary is broadly relevant to environmental thought and action, and the purview of ecocriticism ranges far beyond texts explicitly “about” the environment. The introduction argues for legibility (not visibility) as the goal of analysis: under what conditions can environmental injustice be read, understood, and apprehended? A reading of Robert Kaplan’s “The Coming Anarchy” and Henrietta Rose-Innes’s “Poison” demonstrates the limitations of eco-apocalypse as a mode of imagining futurity, which tends to ignore histories of imperialism and inequality that shape the present.

Keywords:   Anthropocene, climate change, eco-apocalypse, ecocriticism, genre, globalization, imperialism, political ecology, scale, world literature

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