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Wilderness into Civilized Shapes: Reading the Postcolonial Environment

Overview


This study examines how postcolonial landscapes and environmental issues are represented in fiction. Wright creates a provocative discourse in which the fields of postcolonial theory and ecocriticism are brought together.

Laura Wright explores the changes brought by colonialism and globalization as depicted in an array of international works of fiction in four thematically arranged chapters. She looks first at two traditional oral histories retold in modern novels, Zakes Mda’s ...

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Overview


This study examines how postcolonial landscapes and environmental issues are represented in fiction. Wright creates a provocative discourse in which the fields of postcolonial theory and ecocriticism are brought together.

Laura Wright explores the changes brought by colonialism and globalization as depicted in an array of international works of fiction in four thematically arranged chapters. She looks first at two traditional oral histories retold in modern novels, Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness (South Africa) and Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood (Kenya), that deal with the potentially devastating effects of development, particularly through deforestation and the replacement of native flora with European varieties. Wright then uses J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (South Africa), Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (India and Canada), and Joy Williams’s The Quick and the Dead (United States) to explore the use of animals as metaphors for subjugated groups of individuals. The third chapter deals with India’s water crisis via Arundhati Roy’s activism and her novel, The God of Small Things. Finally, Wright looks at three novels—Flora Nwapa’s Efuru (Nigeria), Keri Hulme’s The Bone People (New Zealand), and Sindiwe Magona’s Mother to Mother (South Africa)—that depict women’s relationships to the land from which they have been dispossessed.

Throughout Wilderness into Civilized Shapes, Wright rearticulates questions about the role of the writer of fiction as environmental activist and spokesperson, the connections between animal ethics and environmental responsibility, and the potential perpetuation of a neocolonial framework founded on western commodification and resource-based imperialism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Wright’s deeply provocative and richly nuanced Wilderness into Civilized Shapes represents the current state of play in contemporary postcolonial ecocriticism. . . . Wright provides much needed tools to explore the diversity and urgency of these cultural arrangements with the natural world. This is the sort of book that, for postcolonial scholars, represents the best in the field, while, for those in adjoining disciplines, offering a rewarding invitation to explore an allied field.”—Deane Curtin, author of Environmental Ethics for a Postcolonial World

"Laura Wright effectively brings together postcolonial and ecocritical readings strategies, even as she explores a wide range of postcolonial texts dealing with environmental issues. Her insightful close readings, elegant prose, and effective organization all contribute to making this a groundbreaking study in the emerging field of green postcolonialism." —Byron Caminero-Santangelo, author of Joseph Conrad: Reading Postcolonial Intertextuality

"Laura Wright offers us wonderful new ways of synthesizing the burgeoning but hitherto distinct fields of postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, and animal studies. Wright deftly negotiates this new turf, analyzing the main conceptual innovations and demonstrating, through smart readings, just what a new environmental-postcolonial-animal studies approach to literature can deliver."—Rob Nixon, Rachel Carson Professor of English, University of Wisconsin

Wilderness into Civilized Shapes offers elegant readings of a diverse range of texts as the bedrock from which it is able to articulate significant complications and paradigm shifts to the field of ecocritical inquiry. Wright’s conclusion. . .establishes just what is at stake politically and culturally in postcolonial ecocritical efforts. This is a fitting open-end to an excellent, expansive example of what can be accomplished in the field.”—Chris Campbell, Safundi

“[Laura Wright] invites complex understandings of the relationship between textual representation of voice and subaltern subjectivity. . . .[Her] refusal to accept singular perspectives, both theoretical and analytic, reveals a desire to venerate the interconnectedness of peoples, species, and ecosystems.”—Madison P. Jones, ISLE

“[T]his book represents a valuable contribution to the emerging field of postcolonial environmental criticism.”—Sharae Deckard, Green Letters
 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820333960
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2010
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Laura Wright is an assistant professor and director of graduate studies in English at Western Carolina University. She is the author of Writing “Out of All the Camps”: J. M. Coetzee’s Narratives of Displacement.
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Table of Contents


acknowledgments vii
introduction.
Imagining the Postcolonial Environment 1
chapter one.
Inventing Tradition and Colonizing the Plants: Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood and Zakes Mda’s Heart of Redness 19
chapter two.
Safari, Zoo, and Dog Pound: Vegetarianism, Extinction, and the Place of Animals in the Postcolonial Environment 56
chapter three.
“Swimming in the River of Life” but Caught in “the Stream of Justice”: India’s Water Woes and Arundhati Roy 103
chapter four.
Prophecy, Motherhood, and the Land: An Exploration of Postcolonial Ecofeminism 128
conclusion.
Writing and Theorizing the Environmental Interregnum 174
notes 181
works cited 193
index 205
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