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Thoeau’s Deep Naturalism

September 19, 2016

If pressed, I might refer to the wild, extended passage in “Spring,” Thoreau’s ecstatic observation of the thawing sand bank in the second to last chapter in Walden, as an example of “deep naturalism.”

We will have occasion later in the course to engage more directly with “deep ecology,” an inspiration, it would seem, for this critical category of deep naturalism. In the meantime, here is a call for papers I received for the ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment) conference in 2015. You can get a feel for the range and mixture of the literary and the environmental that is of interest in contemporary environmental criticism. You might think of one or more of these topics as a way into your close reading of Walden.

CFP: Deep Naturalism 

With its roots in Romanticism and Transcendentalism, ecocriticism has only begun to consider literary naturalism as a genre preoccupied with questions of environment, materialism, and the animal. Naturalism is deeply concerned with the influence of place, space, environment, animals, and nonhuman things on social experience. Rather than framing literary naturalism within its immediate contexts in European and American literature, this panel will consider how naturalist ecologies engage with deep time and wide-ranging geopolitical relations. Possible paper topics might include naturalism’s intersections with:

–cultural geography

–deep history

–new materialisms

–agricultulture and soil management

–evolutionary theory

–ecological governance

–literary influences on later environmental writing

–food studies

–environmental injustice

–climate science

–geological phenomena

–modes of transcorporeality

–urban ecologies

–animal studies


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