Thinking Continental: Writing the Planet One Place at a Time
Co-edited with Susan Naramore Maher, Drucilla Wall, and O. Alan Weltzien
In response to the growing scale and complexity of environmental threats, this volume collects articles, essays, personal narratives, and poems by more than forty authors in conversation about “thinking continental”—connecting local and personal landscapes to universal systems and processes—to articulate the concept of a global or planetary citizenship.
Reckoning with the larger matrix of biome, region, continent, hemisphere, ocean, and planet has become necessary as environmental challenges require the insights not only of scientists but also of poets, humanists, and social scientists. Thinking Continental braids together abstract approaches with strands of more-personal narrative and poetry, showing how our imaginations can encompass the planetary while also being true to our own concrete life experiences in the here and now.
“Through the interplay of the creative and the critical—in which both modes of ecological writing exist side by side, in exchange with one another—Thinking Continental presents a timely and distinct contribution to the blossoming of the environmental humanities.”
-John Charles Ryan
Xerophilia: Ecocritical Explorations in Southwestern Literature
The arid American Southwest is host to numerous organisms described as desert-loving, or xerophilous. Extending this term to include the region’s writers and the works that mirror their love of desert places, Tom Lynch presents the first systematically ecocritical study of its multicultural literature.
By revaluing nature and by shifting literary analysis from an anthropocentric focus to an ecocentric one, Xerophilia demonstrates how a bioregional orientation opens new ways of thinking about the relationship between literature and place. Applying such diverse approaches as environmental justice theory, phenomenology, border studies, ethnography, entomology, conservation biology, environmental history, and ecoaesthetics, Lynch demonstrates how a rooted literature can be symbiotic with the world that enables and sustains it.
Analyzing works in a variety of genres by writers such as Leslie Marmon Silko, Terry Tempest Williams, Edward Abbey, Ray Gonzales, Charles Bowden, Susan Tweit, Gary Paul Nabhan, Pat Mora, Ann Zwinger, and Janice Emily Bowers, this study reveals how southwestern writers, in their powerful role as community storytellers, contribute to a sustainable bioregional culture that persuades inhabitants to live imaginatively, intellectually, and morally in the arid bioregions of the American Southwest.
Winner 2009 Thomas J. Lyon Award from the Western Literature Association
“Relying on his own vast experience exploring and photographing the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, Lynch examines multicultural works in a variety of genres by both familiar and new writers, including Leslie Marmon Silko, Edward Abbey, Ray Gonzalez, and Janice Emily Bowers. In a chapter focused on the “Upper Rio Grand Watershed,” he examines Chicano agropastoralist acequia/irrigation culture in the context of struggles over water rights, as portrayed in John Nichols’s The Milagro Beanfield War.. . . Lynch’s well-researched study of the complex issues surrounding water provides answers to recently raised questions about the relevance of localism by clarifying how large-scale global issues play out at the regional level.”
Natural Treasures of the Great Plains: An Ecological Perspective
Co-edited with Paul Johnsgard and Jack Phillips
Explore the natural treasures of the Great Plains through the contributions of noted essayists and scientists originally published in the regional journal Prairie Fire, including biologists John Janovy Jr., Charles R. Brown, and Paul A. Johnsgard; poet Twyla Hansen; ecologist Chris Helzer; native plant advocates Benjamin Vogt and Jack Phillips; and photographers Michael Farrell and Joel Sartore. Our hope is that through these pages you become an ecotourist, celebrating highly memorable experiences, promoting conservation, and raising your awareness of and love for the biodiversity that surrounds us.
Published in conjunction with the Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.
The Face of the Earth: Natural Landscapes, Science, and Culture
Principal author SueEllen Campbell, with Alex Hunt, Tom Lynch, Richard Kerridge, and Ellen Wohl
This lively book sweeps across dramatic and varied terrains–volcanoes and glaciers, billabongs and canyons, prairies and rain forests–to explore how humans have made sense of our planet’s marvelous landscapes. In a rich weave of scientific, cultural, and personal stories,The Face of the Earth examines mirages and satellite images, swamp-dwelling heroes and Tibetan nomads, cave paintings and popular movies, investigating how we live with the great shaping forces of nature–from fire to changing climates and the intricacies of adaptation. The book illuminates subjects as diverse as the literary life of hollow Earth theories, the links between the Little Ice Age and Frankenstein’s monster, and the spiritual allure of deserts and their scarce waters. Including vivid, on-the-spot accounts by scientists and writers in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Alaska, England, the Rocky Mountains, Antarctica, and elsewhere,The Face of the Earth charts the depth and complexity of our interdependence with the natural world.
The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place
Co-edited with Cheryll Glotfelty and Karla Armbruster
Bioregionalism is an innovative way of thinking about place and planet from an ecological perspective. Although bioregional ideas occur regularly in ecocritical writing, until now no systematic effort has been made to outline the principles of bioregional literary criticism and to use it as a way to read, write, understand, and teach literature.
The twenty-four original essays here are written by an outstanding selection of international scholars. The range of bioregions covered is global and includes such diverse places as British Columbia’s Meldrum Creek and Italy’s Po River Valley, the Arctic and the Outback. There are even forays into cyberspace and outer space. In their comprehensive introduction, the editors map the terrain of the bioregional movement, including its history and potential to inspire and invigorate place-based and environmental literary criticism.
Responding to bioregional tenets, this volume is divided into four sections. The essays in the “Reinhabiting” section narrate experiments in living-in-place and restoring damaged environments. The “Rereading” essays practice bioregional literary criticism, both by examining texts with strong ties to bioregional paradigms and by opening other, less-obvious texts to bioregional analysis. In “Reimagining,” the essays push bioregionalism to evolve–by expanding its corpus of texts, coupling its perspectives with other approaches, or challenging its core constructs. Essays in the “Renewal” section address bioregional pedagogy, beginning with local habitat studies and concluding with musings about the Internet.
In response to the environmental crisis, we must reimagine our relationship to the places we inhabit. This volume shows how literature and literary studies are fundamental tools to such a reimagining.
“This is a terrific book and a landmark contribution to our field. The essays are readable, intelligent, provocative, and grounded in the latest scholarship; they address timely and wide-ranging topics in judicious, illuminating, and sometimes unsettling ways. I predict that this will become an essential reference for both theory and practice.”
“This welcome anthology of cultural papers brings together a range of well-imagined texts and puts the bioregional project front and center for humanists, educators, and scientists.”
“One of the most refreshing and stimulating aspects of this essay collection is its inclusion of voices that are critical of or even antagonistic to the idea of bioregionalism as an organizing category of environmentalist thought, so that the book conveys a sense of lively intellectual controversy rather than dogmatic sermons. No one interested in the imagination of place from an environmental perspective will be able to ignore this fascinating and diverse collection.”
–Ursula K. Heise
Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley
Co-edited with Susan Naramore Maher
Loren Eiseley (1907-77) is one of the most important American nature writers of the twentieth century and an admired practitioner of creative nonfiction. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, Eiseley was a professor of anthropology and a prolific writer and poet who worked to bring an understanding of science to the general public, incorporating religion, philosophy, and science into his explorations of the human mind and the passage of time.
As a writer who bridged the sciences and the humanities, Eiseley is a challenge for scholars locked into rigid disciplinary boundaries. Artifacts and Illuminations, the first full-length collection of critical essays on the writing of Eiseley, situates his work in the genres of creative nonfiction and nature writing. The contributing scholars apply a variety of critical approaches, including ecocriticism and place-oriented studies ranging across prairie, urban, and international contexts. Contributors explore such diverse topics as Eiseley’s use of anthropomorphism and Jungian concepts and examine how his work was informed by synecdoche. Long overdue, this collection demonstrates Eiseley’s continuing relevance as both a skilled literary craftsman and a profound thinker about the human place in the natural world.
2013 Nebraska Book Award winner in Anthology
“Artifacts and Illuminations, the first comprehensive collection of new critical essays about Loren Eiseley’s work, will transform Eiseley scholarship and encourage fresh interpretations. . . . Eiseley’s synthesis of science and personal reflection is more important than ever as a model of a new awareness of humanity’s place in the pageant of evolution.”
El Lobo: Readings on the Mexican Gray Wolf
After roaming the desert Southwest for thousands of years, the Mexican gray wolf was, almost in the blink of an eye, driven to the brink of extinction. El Lobocollects writings that explore how this subspecies of wolf was brought so close to the edge of annihilation.
The first section, ‘To the Brink,’ includes essays that describe wolf biology, the campaign to exterminate wolves from the Southwest, and the wolf’s role in Native American cultures and in Mexican folklore. The second section, ‘And Back,’ illustrates a turnaround in attitudes and policy and includes Aldo Leopold’s famous essay ‘Thinking Like a Mountain,’ Rick Bass’s astute analysis of the political divide, and Sharman Apt Russell’s carefully woven plea in which she shares her experience with Pueblo Indian children meeting a wolf in their school auditorium. These essays, from both sides of the contested issue, resonate with passion, conviction, and the desire to save a world that is mightily at risk.