Event Title

Tools for Reading the Environment: Literary Field Guides & Poetic Inventories as Place-Making Literature

Presenter Information

Lily Jones, Oberlin College

Location

Virtual presentation

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

5-2-2020 5:00 PM

Abstract

Faced with climate change, many people feel powerless to combat widespread environmental degradation. But complex problems such as this one require action on local and individual levels, and interdisciplinary solutions are necessary. One often-overlooked tool for fostering ecologically-conscious individuals is writing, because in many ways, our environmental crisis is a crisis of rhetoric. Discussion of how people conceptualize nature and the environment will inevitably play a key role in finding solutions. Many writers now recognize this, and create pieces with the intention of connecting their readers to a certain place or view of the natural world. In recent years, two similar genres are emerging from this new nature writing movement: literary field guides and poetic inventories. Much like natural field guides, these genres highlight the individual parts of a region that contribute to the biodiversity of the whole. But they adopt a more holistic definition of what that biodiversity might entail; in addition to traditional biodiversity of flora and fauna, a literary field guide might explore a diversity of human experiences with the understanding that these, too, impact and shape ecosystems. In this presentation I will situate literary field guides and poetic inventories as emerging genres within the greater family of nature and environmental writing, and argue that they can be useful as a means for helping people cultivate a sense of place, a key element of encouraging pro-environmental thought and action.

Keywords:

Nature writing, Literature, Poetry, Environmental literacy, Sense of place

Notes

Click here to view this presentation at the Office of Undergraduate Research website from April 27-May 2, 2020.

Major

English; Environmental Studies

Project Mentor(s)

Jennifer Bryan, English
T.S. McMillin, English

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Apr 27th, 8:00 AM May 2nd, 5:00 PM

Tools for Reading the Environment: Literary Field Guides & Poetic Inventories as Place-Making Literature

Virtual presentation

Faced with climate change, many people feel powerless to combat widespread environmental degradation. But complex problems such as this one require action on local and individual levels, and interdisciplinary solutions are necessary. One often-overlooked tool for fostering ecologically-conscious individuals is writing, because in many ways, our environmental crisis is a crisis of rhetoric. Discussion of how people conceptualize nature and the environment will inevitably play a key role in finding solutions. Many writers now recognize this, and create pieces with the intention of connecting their readers to a certain place or view of the natural world. In recent years, two similar genres are emerging from this new nature writing movement: literary field guides and poetic inventories. Much like natural field guides, these genres highlight the individual parts of a region that contribute to the biodiversity of the whole. But they adopt a more holistic definition of what that biodiversity might entail; in addition to traditional biodiversity of flora and fauna, a literary field guide might explore a diversity of human experiences with the understanding that these, too, impact and shape ecosystems. In this presentation I will situate literary field guides and poetic inventories as emerging genres within the greater family of nature and environmental writing, and argue that they can be useful as a means for helping people cultivate a sense of place, a key element of encouraging pro-environmental thought and action.