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Literary Theory 101: Contemporary Ecocriticism


Foreword



This series examines literary criticism from all angles, examining numerous analytical frameworks, modes of interpretation, and constraints. It belongs to the degree in English Studies offered by the Complutense University of Madrid. Once the series comes to completion, the reader may be able to analyze the components that contribute to a text's literary character, such as coherence and literality, and will develop a critical approach toward contemporary literary theory. The reader of these articles might grasp the shifting paradigms of fiction analysis within this theoretical framework, establishing a link between the philosophy of language and the evolution of analytical methods in literary criticism. This series aims to offer an insight into the complex relationship between style and the cultural environment, historical factors that have shaped the idea of style as well as the changing literary canon. By examining the complex ways in which literature, language, and culture interact with one another, this series aims to help the readers develop their capacity for critical thinking and interpretation.


This Literary Theory 101 is divided into the following chapters:


Literary Theory 101: Contemporary Ecocriticism


The surge in environmentalism throughout the 1960s and 1970s had a pivotal role in the development of Ecocriticism and Green Studies. The emergence of these academic disciplines may be traced back to a combination of worries over environmental deterioration and an increasing recognition of ecological matters. This interest eventually developed into a broader movement, leading to the development of Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities as separate academic fields. Scholars, driven by a desire to delve into the connections between literature, culture, and the environment, embarked on the formation of these areas of study. Later, during the course of the 1990s, there was a growing fascination in environmental topics and their cultural implications. Ecocriticism is an academic approach that entails analyzing literature and other forms of cultural expression through an environmental lens. Ecocritics strive to reinforce consciousness and foster contemplation on ecological concerns. It includes a critical assessment of how nature is portrayed. In other words, it: “explores the relations between literature and the biological and physical environment, conducted with an acute awareness of the devastation that has been wrought on that environment by human activities” (Abrams & Harpham, 2009, p. 87). Hence, the foundational principles of ecocriticism are rooted in its dedication to conducting a rigorous examination and analysis of literature and other fields in order to identify and interpret the themes and storylines that explore the dynamic between human beings and entities that are not of the human species. Ecocriticism also endeavors to reveal the fundamental ideas and values that influence the portrayal of nature and the environment in artistic and literary creations. Essentially, ecocriticism functions as a mechanism for enlightening the readership about matters and anxieties pertaining to the environment by examining the representation of the link between humans and natural entities in creative forms. Ecocriticism serves as a valuable instrument for environmental education and activism, using literature and other research areas as modalities to examine, interrogate, and convey the intricate interplay between human beings and the natural world. This conceptual framework leads to a more comprehensive ecological awareness, promoting an enhanced recognition of the need of sustainable connections with the nonhuman realm.


Ecocritics not only interpret the meaning of nature writing texts. They also use those texts as a context for analyzing the ideology and practices of our society in relationship to nature. Often, the result is a critique of how our culture devalues and degrades the natural world. the study of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. Just as feminist criticism examines language and literature from a gender- conscious perspective, and Marxist criticism brings an awareness of modes of production and economic class to its reading of texts, ecocriticism takes an earth-centered approach to literary studies (Glotfelty & Fromm, 1996, xviii).

This quotation might capture the unique methodology used by ecocriticism, highlighting its double function of analyzing works within the genre of nature writing and using them as a framework to critically examine social beliefs and behaviors in connection to the natural world. It might place ecocriticism as an intellectual tradition that runs parallel to the other fields of investigation. The parallel highlights the multidisciplinary character of ecocriticism by associating it with well-established critical frameworks. Similar to how feminist critique utilizes a gender-conscious viewpoint and Marxist criticism integrates an understanding of economic class, ecocriticism, as emphasized, embraces an earth-centered perspective. The mention of the examination of the correlation between literature and the tangible surroundings situates ecocriticism as an academic discipline that serves as a link between the realms of the humanities and the sciences. Integrating an interdisciplinary technique is critical for understanding the interaction between literature and the environment, highlighting the complicated and mutually dependent relationship between human and non-human components. Glotfelty and Fromm underscore the position of ecocriticism within the field of literary studies as well. It presents ecocriticism as a method of analysis that not only interprets textual significances, but also serves as a potent instrument for critiquing society. This aligns with broader currents in critical theory that aim to expose and question deeply entrenched societal frameworks and conventions as Feminism and Marxism set out to do. Furthermore, the quotation highlights the social character of ecocriticism, emphasizing that its scope goes beyond the examination of literature to embrace the wider connection between society and the natural world. The analysis of how culture undermines and diminishes the natural world could imply that ecocriticism functions as a kind of cultural criticism, questioning established standards and behaviors that contribute to the deterioration of the environment. The claim that ecocritics expand their study beyond the area of text to evaluate the wider ramifications for society could align with the idea that literature functions as a reflective tool, showcasing societal values and attitudes.



Figure 1: Left handed person holding a green leaf plant (Koval, 2018).

A primary concern in the first wave of Ecocriticism was the gravity of the environmental crisis. Thus, the capacity for imagination is called into question, necessitating the investigation of novel viewpoints in order to comprehend the complex relationship between humanity and the environment. This wave, kept the cultural distinction between human and nature, promoting the value of nature. The inception of the second phase of Ecocriticism may be traced back to the 1960s, coinciding with the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring; an “earth-centered approach” (Glotfelty & Fromm, 1996, xviii) with “human culture is connected to the physical world, affecting it and affected by it” (Glotfelty & Fromm, 1996, xix). This initiative is focused on exploring environmental concerns with the goal of increasing readers' understanding. It seeks to do this by revisiting, reissuing, and reassessing works in the genre of nature writing, which encompasses a range of historical periods, literary genres, and authorial viewpoints. By reframing the text inside the framework of the natural world, it serves to reevaluate the significance of Nature Writing and establish a renewed connection between the social, cultural, and ecological aspects. The prism of culture through which we see nature plays a significant role in shaping our understanding of it. Lawrence Buell, an established authority in the field of literature and the environment, investigates the convergence of literary works and eco-friendly ideologies, focusing specifically on the impact of Henry David Thoreau. His seminal contributions have significantly influenced discourse surrounding the correlation between literary and the environment, thereby making an enduring mark on the discipline of ecocriticism. According to Lawrence Buell (1995) environmentally oriented works display the following characteristics: the existence of the non-human environment is not limited to being a simple framing device, but rather it emerges as a significant entity that implies the interconnectedness of human history with natural history. The text's ethical foundation encompasses the concept of human responsibility towards the environment.


This could exhibit an understanding of the environment as a dynamic process rather than a static entity. The functioning of Earth's ecosystems relies on physical processes that occur independently of and beyond human influence. Therefore, human beings continue to be intricately connected, albeit often imperceptibly, with the existence of many non-human entities. In contrast, the second wave of environmentalism exhibits a unique modernity by challenging the traditional boundaries between the human and non-human realms, so prompting critical inquiries into the fundamental nature of these notions. The third stage of Ecocriticism examines the underlying principles about the semiotic creation of discourse, particularly in relation to how literary language shapes our understanding of animals and people. The process of reestablishing the foundation and altering the structure of language. New Materialism, included in the second section of this article is often considered a fourth wave of Ecocriticism. The discourse around the demarcation between the human and non-human entities, as well as the distinction between nature and non-nature, is examined as socially constructed phenomenon. Ecocritics actively question these constructs, raising inquiries into how they shape perceptions of the environmental problem and its potential resolution. Buell (1995) states that this movement prompted a reevaluation of the meaning of the word "environment," expanding its semantic criteria to include both "nature" and urban environments. At the foundation of ecocriticism lies the preservation of a dominant viewpoint: “a commitment to environmentality from whatever critical vantage point” (Buell, 1995, p. 11).


To summarize, the emergence of Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities as academic fields may be attributed to the environmental movement that gained momentum throughout the 1960s and 1970s. This highlights the need of an interdisciplinary approach in order to fully grasp the intricacies of environmental issues. Glotfelty and Fromm attempt to capture the twin function of ecocriticism, which involves the interpretation of natural texts as well as the critical analysis of social perspectives on the environment. The emergence of the third wave signifies a contemporary perspective that questions the delineation between the human and non-human realms, while also delving further into the examination of language's function. The proliferation of the ecojustice movement within the field of ecocriticism serves to expand the conceptual boundaries of the term "environment" and foster a heightened awareness of social disparities. Collectively, these fields of study foster a holistic understanding of the interrelationships among literature, culture, and the environment, which is crucial for effectively tackling present-day environmental challenges. The ecojustice movement, as a part of the field of ecocriticism, expands the conceptualization of the word "environment" by establishing connections between environmental concerns and social inequalities. These connections are crucial aspects to be considered while examining the narrative of the Anthropocene. Collectively, these disciplines provide multidisciplinary perspectives that are essential for effectively addressing the intricate challenges of the Anthropocene epoch.



Figure 2: Silhouette of trees (Koval, 2016).
Anthropocene

The term "Anthropocene" refers to a suggested geological period characterized by the commencement of substantial human impact on the Earth's geology and ecosystems, including phenomena such as climate change. The term "Anthropocene" is etymologically rooted in the Ancient Greek terms 'Anthropos,' which denotes "human," and '-cene,' derived from 'kainos,' denoting "new." The word was first used as early as the 1960s, specifically referring to the Quaternary, which is recognized as the most recent geological epoch. The term "Anthropocene" was first proposed by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer in the 1980s, and it gained significant recognition in 2000 with the contributions of atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen and ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer. The publication titled "The 'Anthropocene'" (2000), which appeared in the Global Change Newsletter, significantly contributed to the dissemination and acceptance of the word among the scientific community. The Anthropocene, characterized as a geological and climatological epoch defined by the overwhelming impact of human activity, has an inherent paradox. This irony is shown by seemingly 'ordinary' processes that often surpass established boundaries. This is seen in events such as unprecedented or severe climatic phenomena, the simplicity or degradation of ecosystems, and incidences of die-back or collapse. The notion of the Anthropocene, which symbolizes human domination, ironically highpoints the significant effects on supposedly autonomous natural systems, thereby stressing the complex interface between human-driven forces and occurrences that appear to be 'natural':


The major irony of the Anthropocene is that, though named as that era in the planet’s natural history in which humanity itself becomes a decisive geological and climatological force, it manifests itself to us primarily through the domain of ‘natural’ becoming, as it were, dangerously out of bounds, in extreme or unprecedented weather events, ecosystems becoming simplified or trashed, die-back or collapse (Timothy Clark, 2016, p. 6).

Dipesh Chakrabarty, an eminent Indian academic specializing in postcolonial and subaltern studies, has made significant contributions to the field of ecocriticism by actively engaging with the discipline of environmental history. Chakrabarty's work invites a reevaluation of traditional historical narratives by emphasizing the interconnectedness between human history, particularly within the framework of colonialism, and the natural world. This author's research prompts academics to contemplate the environmental ramifications of past occurrences, emphasizing the complex interplay between human actions and the natural world. Chakrabarty's significant contribution is in promoting a comprehensive perspective on history, highlighting the interconnectedness between human history and the biological environment. In the year 2009, Chakrabarty brought attention to a notable predicament presented by the Anthropocene epoch. He referred to the erosion of the longstanding dichotomy between natural history and human history within the realm of humanism. This remark concisely captures the significant difficulty posed by the Anthropocene period, characterized by the extensive and impactful impact of human activities on the Earth's geological and biological processes, resulting in their transformation. Nevertheless, considering the advent of the Anthropocene epoch, human activities have emerged as a geological phenomenon, therefore eroding the conventional demarcation between entities classified as natural and those attributed to human agency. Chakrabarty's finding highlights the need to reassess and reexamine the conceptual frameworks that shape our comprehension and narration of historical events. The concept of the Anthropocene questions the dichotomy between human history and natural history, emphasizing the interdependence between human actions and the Earth's systems. The erosion of the conventional differentiation necessitates a reassessment to understand the interconnection between human beings and the natural world within the framework of this emerging geological era.



Figure 3: Picture of a book in nature (Grzenia, n.d.).

In summary, the notion of the Anthropocene refers to a geological and ecological period characterized by substantial human influence on Earth's systems. This idea presents a complex relationship between human actions and seemingly 'natural' events. It is crucial to remark that Chakrabarty's analysis draws attention to the breakdown of the conventional distinction between human and natural history, emphasizing the intricate nature of the Anthropocene epoch. This occurrence invites a reassessment of established historical narratives, compelling researchers to contemplate the environmental ramifications of past events. In the context of the Anthropocene era, which is marked by exceptional weather phenomena and ecological disturbances, there is a growing recognition of the need to develop a thorough understanding of the interconnectedness between human and environmental systems. Chakrabarty's observations need a reevaluation of conceptual frameworks, prompting the needed consideration of the complex interplay between humans and the environment during this epoch of significant geological change.


Material Ecocriticism

Material ecocriticism is widely recognized as a very prosperous area of study within the broader field of ecocriticism. This method surpasses the examination of depictions of nature in literature and other cultural mediums, which may be considered a common focus in conventional ecocriticism and its fourth wave of investigation. This growing field within the realm of ecocriticism, demonstrates a sensitive level of involvement with the contemporary ecological challenges. In contrast, this discipline prioritizes the examination of the tangible aspects of ecological concerns and the interdependent connections between human and nonhuman things. This academic branch of knowledge that examines the physical aspects of the environment, delves into the ways in which human actions, technology, and natural components overlap and influence ecological systems. This area of study explores the concrete elements of the environment, examining the observable consequences of human activities on various geographical areas, ecological systems, and the overall Earth system. Karen Barad, an influential scholar in the field of material ecocriticism, has a significant position with the contribution of her landmark publication, Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007). Barad, a quantum physicist, has made significant academic influence by offering a novel understanding of agency. She aims to extend the application of her comprehension of natural phenomena rendering it at a larger scale, such as those seen in the realms of nature or society. Her concept of "agential realism," presents the notion of "intra-action" as a significant divergence from traditional understandings of agency, beyond its typical association with human subjectivity. Specifically, Barad reconceptualizes agency as a dynamic activity that takes place within certain contexts and has a substantial influence on the respective domain. This conceptual framework offers a detailed reconfiguration of the traditional conception of agency, beyond its limited connection to human subjectivity. The term "intra-action" refers to a state in which the individual entities involved do not exist independently prior to their relational dynamics. Rather, their development is closely intertwined with the ongoing interaction of these connections. To Barad, agency is to be apprehended as “a matter of intra-acting; it is an enactment, not something that someone or something has” (Barad, 2007, p. 235).


This view aims to examine the dynamics of literary entities and their interactions within certain contextual frameworks. Barad urges researchers to transcend the conventional perspective of agency as an innate attribute limited to specific characters or themes. In contrast, she places significant emphasis on the interrelatedness and contextual integration of literary components. This may highlight how ecocritical studies include the examination of characters, situations, and ecological themes as essential components within a larger story, so reflecting the recognized ecological interconnectedness seen in the natural world. Barad's viewpoint is in accordance with the ecocritical focus on emergent ecological phenomena, which encourages researchers to investigate the emergence of agency from the intricate interconnections of literary pieces within larger ecological narratives. Barad's theoretical framework offers ecocriticism a novel perspective through for comprehending the intricate interactions that exist throughout literary ecosystems. Barad's conceptual framework for comprehending agency within literary ecosystems, has substantial significance in the context of the Anthropocene. Her focus on the interdependence of literary entities corresponds with the acknowledgment of the complex network of connections that define the Anthropocene epoch, which is distinguished by the significant influence of human activities on the ecosystems of the Earth. In the contemporary era, there exists a complex interconnection between human and non-human entities, whereby a story unfolds including alterations in the environment, disturbances in ecological systems, and the repercussions of human actions onto the Earth. Moreover, this emphasis on contextual embeddedness as emphasized by Barad has significance within the framework of the Anthropocene, whereby the interconnections between socio-cultural, economic, and environmental factors are inseparable. This perspective could imply that literary works serve as reflective tools that illuminate the interconnectedness between human cultures and the natural environment, providing a valuable perspective for examining the many ramifications and intricacies of Anthropocene dynamics.



Figure 4: In the woods (Del Río, 2015).

Hence, the Anthropocene period is characterized by interactions with things outside the human realm, including both physical components and a scientifically driven investigation of ecosystems. This may entail a focused examination of previously disregarded subtleties within the natural realm and a shift towards attaining parity in environmental affairs. Its primary objective is to promote a more sustainable and improved global ecosystem for both human and non-human organisms via intentional efforts focused on the ongoing restoration and preservation of biodiversity. The appraisal of biodiversity, the protection of ecosystem services and processes, and the assurance of long-term species survival are seen as key topics to be addressed. This approach purposefully refrains from idealizing or romanticizing nature. The scholarly discussion pertaining to material nature is in accordance with this theoretical framework, illustrating a reality defined by the dynamic interactions or intra-actions of material substances that span the porous boundaries of physical entities, ecosystems, locales, and layers of existence:


New materialisms insisting on the agency and significance of matter, maintain that even in the anthropocene, or, especially in the anthropocene, the substance of what was once called ‘nature,’ acts, interacts, and even intra-acts within, through, and around human bodies and practices (Alaimo, 2016, p. 1).

It could be debated then that actions take place in a field of relations between forces that all possess agentic capacities. Consideration might be given to the fact that the nature writing of the Anthropocene is colored by its attention to the forces of evolution or geology, or the behavior of organisms, substances, and climatic processes that operate independently of human intention, and to the altered reality that is emergent through the intentional, unintentional, and often unpredictable actions of industrial humanity with the distributed field of agency in the material world. Other scholars of material ecocriticism have expanded on Barad’s thoughts to stress the “vitality of matter,” such as Jane Bennett with her concept of “vibrant matter”. Bennett is a renowned scholar in the realm of political theory and academia, recognized for her significant contributions to the disciplines of political philosophy, environmental ethics, and cultural studies. She is primarily linked to the theoretical framework recognized as "vital materialism". In her seminal publication titled Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, Bennett (2010) presents a critique of conventional anthropocentric viewpoints and advocates for a comprehensive comprehension of the political ramifications associated with the agency and liveliness of entities that are not human. Bennett's criticism emphasizes the need for a more complete comprehension of the political ramifications linked to the agency and vitality of non-human creatures. In her analysis, she investigates the manner in which diverse material things, including commonplace items as well as elemental forces, exercise their impact on social and governmental systems. Bennett writes that by “vitality” she means “the capacity of things—edibles, commodities, storms, metals—not only to impede or block the will and designs of humans but also to act as quasi agents or forces with trajectories, propensities, or tendencies of their own” (p. 8). The aim of her research is to reassess political interpretations by acknowledging the agency and power that exist inside non-human creatures. Bennett (2010) argues that by carefully considering the "force of things," a more sophisticated comprehension of political occurrences may be achieved. She aims to investigate the potential impact on political event interpretations when considering the presence and significance of non-human factors, as expressed in her own words, she points to: “articulate a vibrant materiality that runs alongside and inside humans to see how analyses of political events might change if we gave the force of things more due” (p. 8).



Figure 5: The Geologic History of Earth (Ray Troll/Troll Art, n.d.).

Within the domain of ecocritical literary study, Harold Fromm underscores the intricate and multifaceted relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Fromm's depiction of the perpetual interplay between the environment and human bodies is congruent with the philosophical viewpoints espoused by Karen Barad and Jane Bennett. The focus placed by Fromm on the dynamic and linked character of human-environment connections aligns with the principles of Barad's agential realism, which posits that agency arises from interdependent relationships. The notions of "vibrant matter" and "vital materialism" put out by Bennett emphasize the agency of non-human phenomena. These ideas may be seen to align with Fromm's portrayal of environmental components as active players with their own inherent inclinations. Narratives and representations, therefore, serve as reflections of the ongoing interactions between human beings and the natural environment:


The ‘environment,’ as we now apprehend it, runs right through us in endless waves, and if we were to watch ourselves via some ideal microscopic time-lapse video, we would see water, air, food, microbes, toxins entering our bodies as we shed, excrete, and exhale our processed materials back out (Fromm, 2009, p. 95).

The phrase "shedding, excreting, and exhaling our processed materials back out" remarks the inherent cyclicality of the relationship, illustrating the absorption of surrounding chemicals and the subsequent elimination of resultant byproducts. This phenomenon elicits contemplation on the complex interconnections between human beings and the natural environment within the realm of ecocritical literary discourse. As a result, it promotes the inclination of researchers to embrace an ecological lens while doing literary study, acknowledging that tales and depictions serve as mirrors of the continuous interplay between humans and the natural world. The phrase "runs right through us in endless waves" implies a continuous interchange of materials, challenging the notion of the environment as separate from ourselves. The use of the term "ideal microscopic time-lapse video" serves to emphasize the dynamic nature of the interaction, as it envisions a constant influx of environmental elements into the human body. The circular process described in Fromm's tenets, whereby treated materials are subsequently returned to the environment, resonates with Bennett's argument for acknowledging the agency of non-human entities. These viewpoints together provide a challenge to anthropocentrism, calling upon researchers to undertake a more in-depth examination via an ecocritical gaze. This entails the examination of literature as a complex interaction between human and non-human entities, enhancing our comprehension of the subtle connections between mankind and the natural world inside literary works. These academic contributions might result in a reevaluation and restructuring of political perspectives. This emerging field of research offers a thorough and rich analysis of the complex interactions between people and the natural world, so enriching the dialogue around ecology and facilitating a more profound comprehension of the many confronting environmental issues.



Figure 6: Human actions (Čirjak, 2020).
The Rhizome as Eco-Metaphor

Simon Estok offers a comprehensive description of ecocriticism as well, which includes the examination of some ways in which the natural world operates within different material activities, this could bring to mind the rhizomatic ideas of interconnectivity and non-linearity. To develop these ideas, the rhizome is utilized as a metaphor to challenge the notion of direct and hierarchical thinking, instead promoting a network-like arrangement of connections. Rhizomes, as conceptualized by Guilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, are linked networks that lack classified structures: “A rhizome has no beginning or end; it is always in the middle, between things, interbeing, intermezzo. The tree is filiation, but the rhizome is alliance, uniquely alliance” (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 27). Therefore, the rhizome may be seen as a complex network that expands without a clear hierarchy, without distinct starting or ending points. It exists in an underground domain, where its interconnectedness is complicated and constantly evolving. This aligns with Estok's understanding of ecocriticism as a theory that aims to explore the complex relationships between literature, the natural environment, and wider material practices. Estok highlights the unique ethical stance of ecocriticism and its commitment to the environment, going beyond a limited subject scope. The concordance presented here aligns with the principles of rhizomatic philosophy, which opposes hierarchical structures. It presents ecocriticism as a theoretical framework that has the potential to bring about significant transformations in several domains. He argues that:


It is more than "simply the study of Nature or natural things in literature; rather, it is any theory that is committed to effecting change by analyzing the function–thematic, artistic, social, historical, ideological, theoretical, or otherwise—of the natural environment, or aspects of it, represented in documents (literary or other) that contribute to material practices in material worlds" (Estok, 2005, pp. 16-17).

The dedication to establishing links, as emphasized by Estok, reflects the rhizomatic nature inherent in ecocriticism. Ecocriticism, in a similar vein, explores the complex connections between the natural environment and many components found within literature, including thematic, artistic, social, historical, ideological, and theoretical dimensions. This approach aligns with the rhizomatic structure, emphasizing the numerous interrelations within this field of study. Estok argues that: "ecocriticism has distinguished itself, debates notwithstanding, firstly by the ethical stand it takes, its commitment to the natural world as an important thing rather than simply as an object of thematic study, and, secondly, by its commitment to making connections” (Estok, 2001, p. 200). Therefore, in the realm of postmodern discourse, the concept of the rhizome could function as a means to expand the theoretical potential by deconstructing hierarchical forms of thinking. This perspective promotes a paradigm that is both creative and egalitarian, fostering equitable connections between entities of both human and non-human nature, in a rhizomatic connection. Estok's explication of ecocriticism, which involves the examination of the natural world's participation in many material endeavors, is in accordance with the rhizomatic concepts of interconnectedness and non-linearity. Ecocriticism, characterized by its rejection of hierarchical systems, aligns itself with rhizomatic philosophy, establishing a connection that fosters dynamism and the possibility for transformative outcomes. The use of the rhizome as a metaphorical device poses a challenge to the linear patterns of thinking that have been created, highlighting the unwavering dedication of ecocriticism to thoroughly study the numerous linkages that exist between literature, the environment, and material behaviors. This exposition of ecocriticism goes beyond a limited emphasis on nature in literature, elevating it to the status of a revolutionary theoretical framework. Estok argues that ecocriticism aims to bring about change by critically analyzing the representation of the natural environment in written texts. The unwavering commitment to forging links within the field of ecocriticism reflects the inherent rhizomatic character of this academic pursuit. Similar to rhizomes, ecocriticism engages in a thorough examination of the relationships between the environment and different aspects of literature, emphasizing the intricate interconnections that exist within this ecological discourse. Moreover, Estok's prioritization on the ethical foundations of ecocriticism aligns with the rhizomatic refusal of hierarchical frameworks.



Figure 7: Rhizome (n.d.).

The use of the rhizome as a metaphor in the field of ecocriticism functions as a strategy to dismantle hierarchical structures and expand the scope of theoretical perspectives. The alignment described here aligns with the principles of ecocriticism, which aims to establish a fair and equal paradigm by promoting balanced relationships between human and non-human creatures within ecological discussions. Both the rhizome and ecocriticism, via their critique of established viewpoints, emphasize the concepts of interconnectivity, non-linearity, and transformational capacity. Within this framework, the rhizomatic alliance serves as a figurative depiction of the complex alliances existing within the field of ecocritical discourse. These associations include the interconnections between the natural world, literature, and material activities, forming a scholarly network that is both dynamic and interrelated.


Final Thoughts

The main purpose of this article is to provide readers with an analysis of contemporary ecocriticism, along with its application in academic and social contexts. Ecocriticism is posited as an academic discipline that seeks to disrupt the traditional dichotomy between the sciences and the humanities by prioritizing the intrinsic interconnectedness between literary, scientific, and ecological perspectives. This developing field portrays the fundamental interrelation between the realm of academics and broader social and environmental endeavors. It explores the dynamic relationship between literature and the natural environment within the context of the ecosystem, which is seen as a cohesive network of interrelated organisms. The interconnectedness of this approach is relevant to the wide array of fields that ecocriticism seeks to include. The primary aim of this study is to approach common ground across various perspectives. In conclusion, the rise and progression of ecocriticism and its related fields, such as Environmental Humanities, signify a significant response to the increasing recognition of environmental concerns. The discipline of Environmental Humanities has seen significant expansion, expanding its interdisciplinary scope to recognize the need for comprehensive methodologies that may successfully address complex environmental issues.


The examination of the Anthropocene epoch underscores the substantial impact that human activities have had on Earth's systems, hence challenging conventional differentiations between natural and human history. Material ecocriticism focuses on the tangible aspects of environmental concerns and the intricate relationships between human and nonhuman entities. This methodology, influenced by scholars like Karen Barad and Jane Bennet, lays considerable importance on the vitality of material things and promotes a nuanced comprehension of agency that surpasses human subjectivity. Estok's analysis of the rhizome as an ecological metaphor within the framework of ecocritical discourse aligns with the discipline's commitment to embracing non-linear thought processes and acknowledging the intricate web of connections between various elements. The rhizomatic perspective offers a critical analysis of hierarchical structures, promoting a network-oriented arrangement of relationships that coincides with the concepts of ecocriticism. This method places significant emphasis on the analysis of intricate connections between literature, the natural environment, and greater material endeavors. In summary, contemporary ecocriticism encompasses several theoretical perspectives such as the discourse on the Anthropocene, material ecocriticism, and the rhizomatic eco-metaphor. These frameworks provide valuable conceptual tools for understanding and addressing the intricate relationships between human beings and the natural world. These strategies facilitate a comprehensive comprehension and admiration of ecological concerns, fostering multidisciplinary collaboration and underscoring the need of developing sustainable interactions with the natural world. The ongoing progression and scrutiny of these perspectives are crucial for properly tackling the complex environmental challenges of the contemporary day.


Bibliographical References

Alaimo, S. (2016). Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times. University of Minnesota Press.


Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press Books.


Buell, L. (1995). The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Belknap Pres.


Buell, L. (1998). Toxic Discourse. Critical Inquiry, 24(3), 639–665.


Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. University of Minnesota Press.


Estok, S. C. (2001). "A Report Card on Ecocriticism." AUMLA, 96, (November), 200–38.


Estok, S. C. (2005). "Shakespeare and Ecocriticism: An Analysis of 'Home' and 'Power' in King Lear." AUMLA, 103(May 2005), 15–41.


Fromm, H. (2009). The Nature of Being Human. Johns Hopkins University Press.


Garrard, G. (2004). Ecocriticism. Taylor & Francis. ‎University of Georgia Press.


Glotfelty, C., & Fromm, H. (Eds.). (1996). The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology.




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