ESO Bibliographies: Ecocriticism

Ecocriticism and Southern Studies

Introduction and Bibliography by Michael J. Beilfuss

I’ve divided the bibliography into two short sections. First is a list of works that seem to me to be particularly significant for a basic understanding of Ecocriticism and its various waves. For those new to the field, the most succinct summary of it can be found in Lawrence Buell’s or Terry Gifford’s essays. For more depth and breadth concerning the foundations and directions of the field, see Garrard’s works, or some of Buell’s other works. Glottfelty and Fromm’s anthology is the closest thing to a foundational text in Ecocriticism.

The second list focuses on works that may fall under the heading of “Southern Ecocriticism.” I have limited myself mostly to scholarly titles in order to keep this list manageable. I chose not to include primary works mostly because when considering literature, the environment, and the South, I’m not sure where one would begin. Or end. With its fraught history of agrarianism and slavery, its long tradition of sense of place writing, its foundations in pastoral and regionalism, the list of primary Southern works that could offer significant contributions to environmental thought and criticism seems endless.

Overall, there aren’t many book length studies that could clearly be identified as Southern Ecocriticism. Despite its manifold possibilities, it doesn’t seem to exist as an organized field, or sub-field, in either Southern Studies or Ecocriticism. There has been little theorizing about what exactly Southern Ecocriticism may look like, what it may do, what questions it seeks to answer, what it might contribute to work in either of the two parent fields or to other fields more widely.

Maybe the lack of theorizing is a good thing. I understand the desire, the necessity even, to theorize a field in order get a good handle on its beginnings and development, to discover its possible future directions, and to examine what it may contribute to larger questions. Theorizing can help us get down to the bones, the marrow even, of the matter. But at its most abstract, such theorizing can sometimes devolve into a sort of tautology that admits only a few academics into its circle.

So what is Southern Ecocriticism? To adapt the simple definition of Ecocriticism provided by Cheryll Glotfelty, it is the study of relationships between (southern) literature (culture and society) and the (southern) physical environment. And yet it tends to reach beyond provincial borders to embrace global concerns, recognizing the interconnectivity of our environments, even while focusing on the implications for a particular and local environment. To reverse the old cliché, there is an attitude of thinking locally in order to act globally.

The dearth of works that are self-consciously Southern Ecocriticism forced me to expand the field in some ways. I have included in the bibliography some works on environmental history, sociology, and the pastoral that may not strictly be called Ecocriticism, but that offer significant contributions to the study of literature and the environment in the South.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but provides a good starting place for further research and scholarship in a field that presents great potential for growth.


Significant Ecocritical Works

Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Pantheon Books, 1996.

Adamson, Joni, Mei Mei Evans, and Rachel Stein, eds. The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics, and Pedagogy. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2002. Print.

Aitchison, David Carlyle. “Revolution as Technē: Place, Space, and Ecotage in the American Radical Novel.” TRANS 16 (2013): 2-12.

Alaimo, Stacy. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2010.

Allewaert, Monique. Ariel’s Ecology: Plantations, Personhood, and Colonialism in the American Tropics. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2013.

Amster, Randall. “Perspectives on Ecoterrorism: Catalysts, Conflations, and Casualties.” Contemporary Justice Review 9.3 (2006): 287-301.

Armbruster, Karla, and Kathleen R. Wallace. Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 2001.

Bate, Johnathan. The Song of the Earth. London: Picador, 2000.

Buell, Lawrence. “Ecocriticism: Some Emerging Trends.” Qui Parle. 19.2 (2011): 87 -85

—. The Future of Environmental Criticism: environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005.

—. “What Is Called Ecoterrorism.” Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism 16 (2009): 153-66.

Clark, Timothy. The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment. Cambridge:  Cambridge UP, 2011.

Cronon, William. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1996.

Devall, Bill and George Sessions. Deep Ecology. Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1985.

Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism. New York: Routledge, 2004.

—. Ed. The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism. New York: Oxford UP, 2014.

Gifford, Terry. Pastoral. New York: Routledge, 1999.

—. “Recent Critiques of Ecocriticism.” New Formations 64 (2008): 15-24.

Glotfelty, Cheryll and Harold Fromm. The Ecocriticism Reader: Landmarks in Literary Ecology. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1996.

Heise, Ursula K. Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global. New York: Oxford UP, 2008.

Hitt, Christopher. “Toward an Ecological Sublime.” New Literary History 30.3 (1999): 603-23.

Kolodny, Annette. The Lay of Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life and Letters. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1975.

Lynch, Tom, Cheryll Glotfelty, and Karla Armbruster. The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2012.

Marx, Leo. “The Idea of Nature in America.” Daedalus 137.2 (2008): 8-21.

—. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.

McKibben, Bill. The End of Nature: Humanity, Climate Change and the Natural World. London: Bloomsbury, 2003.

Miller, Perry. Errand into the Wilderness. Cambridge: Belknap P of Harvard UP: 1984.

Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2013.

Naess, Arne. “Self-Realization: An Ecological Approach to Being in the World.” The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology. Eds. Alan Drengson and Yuichi Inoue. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1995.

—. “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement.” Inquiry 16.1 (1973): 95-100.

Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. New Haven: Yale UP, 1982.

Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard UP,

Opie, John. Nature’s Nation: An Environmental History of the United States. New York: Harcourt, 1998.

Outka, Paul. Race and Nature: From Transcendentalism to the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Palgrave, 2008.

Philippon, Daniel J. Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers Shaped the Environmental Movement. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2004.

Phillips, Dana. The Truth of Ecology: Nature, Culture, and Literature in America. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.

Potter, Will. Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2011.

Sandilands, Catriona. The Good-Natured Feminist: Ecofeminism and the Quest for Democracy. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.

Slovic, Scott. Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing. Salt Lake City: U of Utah P, 1992.

Smith, Neil. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space. 1984. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2008.

Sumner, David Thomas, and Lisa M. Weidman. “Edo-terrorism or Eco-tage: An Argument for the Proper Frame.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 20.4 (2013): 855-76.

Vanderheiden, Steve. “Eco-terrorism or Justified Resistance? Radical Environmentalism and the ‘War on Terror.’” Politics & Society 33.3 (2005): 425-47.

Weiskel, Thomas. The Romantic Sublime: Studies in the Structure and Psychology of Transcendence. London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1976.

Westling, Louise H. The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1996.

Williams, Raymond. The Country and the City. New York: Oxford UP, 1973.

Worster, Donald. The Wealth of Nature: Environmental History and the Ecological Imagination. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.


Ecocriticism and the American South

Aiken, Charles S. William Faulkner and the Southern Landscape. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2009.

Bell, Shannon Elizabeth. Our Roots Run Deep: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice. Champaign: U of Illinois P, 2013.

Bennet, Michael. “Anti-pastoral, Frederick Douglass, and the Nature of Slavery.” Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism. Ed Karla Armbruster and Kathleen R. Wallace. Charlottesville, UP of Virginia, 2001. 195-210.

Berry, Wendell. “The Agrarian Standard.” The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2003.

—. Citizenship Papers. Washington, DC: Shoemaker and Hoard, 2003.

—. “Imagination in Place.” Place in American Fiction: Excursions and Explorations. Eds. H. L. Weatherby and George Core. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 2004.

Bullard, Robert. D. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality. Boulder: Westview P, 1990.

Clabough, Casey Howard. Elements: The Novels of James Dickey. Macon, Georgia: Mercer UP, 2002.

Crosby, Sara L. “Beyond Ecophilia: Edgar Allan Poe and the American Tradition of Ecohorror.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 3 (2014): 513-525

Cowdry, Albert E. This Land, This South: An Environmental History. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1983.

Dallmeyer, Dorinda G. Ed. Elemental South: An Anthology of Southern Nature Writing. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2004.

Dillard, Annie. Pilgrim and Tinker Creek. New York: Harper, 2007.

Dixon, Melvin. Ride out the Wilderness: Geography and Identity in Afro-American Literature. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1987.

Dungy, Camille T. Ed. Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American nature Poetry. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2009.

Ellis, Cristin. “Amoral Abolitionism: Frederick Douglass and the Environmental Case against Slavery.” American Literature 86.2 (2014): 275-303.

Gerhardt, Christine. “The Greening of African-American Landscapes: Where Ecocriticism Meets Post-Colonial Theory.” Mississippi Quarterly 55.4 (2002): 515-33.

Grammer, John. Pastoral and Politics in the Old South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1997.

Hicks, Scott. “Great Buzzards and Talking Hogs, Ghost Crabs and Goophered Grapevines, Sharecropping and Riverwriting: Species of North Carolina Environmental Literature.” North Carolina Literary Review 20 (2011).

—. ”Rethinking King Cotton: George W. Lee, Zora Neale Hurston, and Global/Local Revisions of the South and the Nation.” Arizona Quarterly. 65.4 (2009): 63-91.

Jones, Suzanne W. and Sharon Monteith. South to a New Place: Region, Literature, Culture. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2002.

Kartiganer, Donald M. and Abadie, Ann J. Eds. Faulkner and the Natural World. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1999.

Kirby, Jack Temple. Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2006.

Lane, John and Gerald Thurmond. Eds. The Woods Stretched for Miles: New Nature Writing from the South. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1999.

Lester, Paul Martin. On Floods and Photo Ops: How Herbert Hoover and George W. Bush Exploited Catastrophes. Jackson: U of Mississippi P, 2010.

Lowe, John. Calypso Magnolia: The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2016.

MacKethan, Lucinda. The Dream of Arcady: Place and Time in Southern Literature. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1986.

McLoone, Rob. “Natural affinities: The Political Economy and Ecology of Desire in William Bartram’s Southern Gulf.” The Southern Literary Journal 2 (Spring 2014).

Myers, Jeffrey. “Other Nature: Resistance to Ecological Hegemony in Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman.” African American Review 37.1 (2003): 5-20.

Nelson, Megan Kate. “The Landscape of Disease: Swamps and Medical Discourse in the American Southeast, 1800-1880.” Mississippi Quarterly 55.4 (2002): 535-67.

Parks, Cecily. “The Secret Swamps in Susan Howe’s Secret History of the Dividing Line, Thorow, and Personal Narrative.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 21.2 (2014): 353-373.

Raine, Anne. “Du Bois’s Ambient Poetics: Rethinking Environmental Imagination in The Souls of Black Folk.” Callaloo 36.2 (Spring 2013): 322-341.

Rieger, Christopher. Clear-Cutting Eden: Ecology and the Pastoral in Southern Literature. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2009.

—. “The Pickup Truck in the Garden: Larry Brown’s Joe.” Mississippi Quarterly. 63.3-4 (2010): 679-94.

Saikku, Mikko. This Delta, This Land: An Environmental History of the Yazoo-Mississippi Floodplain. U of Georgia P, 2005.

Simpson, Lewis P. The Dispossessed Garden: Pastoral and History in Southern Literature. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1975.

Smith, Jon. “Hot Bodies and ‘Barbaric Tropics’: The U.S. South and New World Natures.” Southern Literary Journal 36.1 (2003): 104-20.

Smith, Kimberly K. African American Environmental Thought: Foundations. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2007.

—. Wendell Berry and the Agrarian Tradition: A Common Grace. Lawrence: UP of Kansas, 2003.

Sutter, Paul S. and Christopher J. Manganiello, eds. Environmental History and the American South: A Reader. Athens: U of Georgia P, 2009.

Urgo, Joseph R., and Ann J. Abadie, eds. Faulkner and the Ecology of the South. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2005.

Vernon, Zackary. “‘Being Myriad, One’: Melville and the Ethics of the Ecological Sublime in Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses.” Studies in the Novel 46.1 (Spring 2014): 63-82.

—. “The Problematic History and Recent Cultural Reappropriation of Southern Agrarianism.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 21.2 (2014): 337-52.

Wagner-McCoy, Sarah. “Virgilian Chesnutt: Eclogues of Slavery and Georgics of Reconstruction in the Conjure Tales.” ELH 80.1 (2013): 199-220.

Wardi, Anissa Janine. Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2011.

Watson, Jay. “Economics of a Cracker Landscape: Poverty as an Environmental Issue in Two Southern Writers.” Mississippi Quarterly 55.4 (2002): 497-13.

Welling, Bart. “A Meeting with Old Ben: Seeing and Writing Nature in Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses.” Mississippi Quarterly 55.4 (2002): 461-96.

—. “’A Peculiar Kind of Intimacy’: Men, Nature, and the Unnatural in ‘The Sheep Child’ and Deliverance.” James Dickey Newsletter. 23.1 (2006): 27-41.

Westling, Louise H. Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O’Connor. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1985.

Wilson, Anthony. Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2006.

Wirzba, Norman, ed. The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land. Ed. Norman Wirzba. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 2003.



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