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Restoring the Connection to the Natural World: Essays on the African American Environmental Imagination

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Since its emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century, American environmentalism has predominantly been a white, middle-class pursuit, being preoccupied with notions of wilderness and wildlife preservation. Only fairly recently, with the advent of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s, has American environmentalism broadened its definition of "environment" to include the concerns relevant to a community's way of living. Of particular disproportionate importance are the concerns of poor urban ...

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Overview

Since its emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century, American environmentalism has predominantly been a white, middle-class pursuit, being preoccupied with notions of wilderness and wildlife preservation. Only fairly recently, with the advent of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s, has American environmentalism broadened its definition of "environment" to include the concerns relevant to a community's way of living. Of particular disproportionate importance are the concerns of poor urban communities of color, which have been exposed to environmental hazards.

This volume—one of the first collections of ecocritical essays devoted exclusively to African American texts—shows that African Americans have contributed to the efforts of the environmental justice movement, not only as political activists, but also as writers. The essays range from studies of nineteenth-century slave narratives to twentieth-century texts by Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Richard Wright, Charles Johnson, Toni Cade Bambara, Audre Lorde, and Octavia Butler. Employing a variety of theoretical and methodological premises, they provide insight into the texts' various conceptualizations of "nature," "culture," and "humanness" and their implications for environmental ethics.

Sylvia Mayer teaches at the Department of English Literature at the University of Mnster, Germany.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9783825867324
  • Publisher: Lit Verlag
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Series: Forecaast Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Border Ecology: The Slave Narrative of Henry Bibb, Nature, and the Frontier Myth 11
Enclosed by Racist Politics: Space, Place, and Power Dynamics in the Slave Narrative of Harriet Jacobs and in Environmental Justice Activism 31
Narrative Fitness: Science, Nature, and Zora Neale Hurston's Folk Culture 45
Harlem and Primitivism: A Green Reading of Claude McKay's Celebration of Ethnicity in an Urban Context 73
Of Parasites and Humans: Encounters with Nature in Richard Wright's Native Son and Charles Johnson's Dreamer 97
"Wounded Green": Spirit, War, Death and Environmental Justice in Toni Cade Bambara's "The Sea Birds are Still Alive" and "Going Critical" 117
Changing Landscapes: Mapping Breast Cancer as an Environmental Justice Issue in Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals 129
Octavia Butler and the Nature/Culture Divide: An Ecofeminist Approach to the Xenogenesis-Trilogy 149
Genre and Environmentalism: Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, Speculative Fiction, and the African American Slave Narrative 175
Contributors 197
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