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Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting (Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters) Hardcover – February 15, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Ultimately Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism is more than a conventional cultural-historical study: it aspires to change the way readers think and act as moral and political subjects in relation to the natural world. It is this radical ambition, belying the its seemingly modest scope, that will make the book valuable and interesting to readers who are neither nineteenth-century specialists, nor invested in debates in ecocritical theory." - College Literature

"With this lyrical, insightful book on urbanature (emphasis on the first syllable), Nichols (Dickinson College) makes a significant contribution to the evolving field of eco-criticism and to the prestigious 'Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters' series. Nichols inches toward the interdisciplinary by including architecture, natural history, cultural studies, and evolutionary biology within the purview of literary studies . . . Combining literary, anecdotal, and philosophical perspectives, this invaluable book crossbreeds political, spiritual, scientific, and aesthetic elements within the outworn dichotomy of town and country. Summing Up: Essential." - Choice

"At the heart of the book is a vision, at once intellectual, spiritual, and pragmatic, of humans as fundamentally part of the natural world, together with a belief that to establish an "ecoculture" we must embrace that belonging. Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism's holistic vision of ecology as a single integrated system, combining the human and non-human alike, shares much in this respect with Timothy Morton's recent writings, Ecology Without Nature and The Ecological Thought. Nichols focuses, however, not so much on the problem of 'nature' as a category as on human kinship within nature: a kinship which must ultimately define our meanings, our values, and our forms of life. To 'roost' in this sense becomes a keyword for living sustainably in and from environment, without damaging that environment. Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism is in the end a deeply hopeful call, that if can let go of the false distinction between nature and culture and embrace our urbanatural roosting, we can learn to live ecologically while finding all the 'soul' we need in the material and biological world that constitutes us." - ISLE

"There is no question that Nichols has written a wondrous book, innovative in its merging of genres, richly veined with intellectual history, literary criticism, and a passionate vision for the future of environmentalism." - NBOL-19

"Nichols offers a subtle, but significant new way of understanding many of the central debates in the nineteenth century, most notably around evolution, species, and extinction, and how they relate to pressing global concerns. It is this sense of intextricability between the human and the natural that Nichols tries to capture in the word 'urbanature.;" - Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies

"Both critically and artfully, Nichols explores how our conceptions of nature have derived from Enlightenment-era ideas (humans and nature are separate) and Romantic poetry (humans and nature are connected). Relying heavily on poetic examples, Nichols also envisions an 'urbanatural' future in which we see ourselves as part of the earth, but without a sense of atavism or regression, and how our environments will shift accordingly." - Sierra

"An enjoyable read with engaging prose . . . Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism is an important contribution to contemporary discussions about the future of environmentalism and how we might face the environmental challenges of our world today." - Environmental Philosophy

"In Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism, Ashton Nichols reveals himself not just as an ecocritical scholar but as a very effective nature writer." - Ecozon@

"Nichols offers a provocative new approach to understanding the role of humankind in a post-natural, post-industrial world. Grounded in a perceptive reading of Romantic natural history, this book moves beyond the conventional nature-versus-culture dichotomy toward a more inclusive concept of 'urbanatural roosting.' Along the way, Nichols makes important contributions to our scholarly understanding of British Romantic poetry, American environmentalism, and the history of science." - James C. McKusick, author of Green Writing: Romanticism and Ecology

"Ambitious, learned, experimental, and thoroughly readable, Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism posits 'urbanatural roosting' as a vital twenty-first-century mode of ecological thinking. Perhaps this is what the Chinese might call the 'tian ren he yi' (the harmonious unity of the universe and man) of the new millennium. An inspired (and inspiring) book!" - Scott Slovic, editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment

"Part lyrical memoir, part literary and cultural history, part philosophical meditation, Nichols' compelling new book is above all an eloquent, erudite, and impassioned manifesto for a new way of thinking, writing, and living more self-consciously, equitably, and sustainably on this earth. Stressing both the historicity of 'wilderness' and the naturality of the city, Nichols envisages the collaboration of scientific knowledge, urban design and the artistic imagination in the crafting of thriving 'ecomorphic' townscapes as part of a wider practice of sharing and caring for all of earth's diverse, yet all more or less humanized places and spaces." - Kate Rigby, Monash University and author of Topographies of the Sacred: The Poetics of Place in European Romanticism

About the Author

Ashton Nichols is the Walter E. Beach '56 Chair in Sustainability Studies at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Revolutionary “I”: Wordsworth and the Politics of Self-Presentation and The Poetics of Epiphany: Nineteenth-Century Origins of the Modern Literary Moment, and the editor of Romantic Natural Histories: Wordsworth, Darwin, and Others. He has published articles in The Wordsworth Circle, ISLE, and The Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, among numerous other journals. He is currently completing Thoreau's Walden: An Ecocritical Edition.

More About the Author

Ashton Nichols, Ph.D., holds the Walter E. Beach '56 Distinguished Chair in Sustainability Studies and is Professor of Language and Literature in the English Department at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The recipient of teaching awards that include both the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching, Professor Nichols's books include *The Revolutionary "I": Wordsworth and the Politics of Self-Presentation* and *The Poetics of Epiphany: Nineteenth-Century Origins of the Modern Literary Moment* as well as a teaching anthology, *Romantic Natural Histories: William Wordsworth, Charles Darwin, and Others*. He is the developer of *A Romantic Natural History: 1750-1859*, a hypertext project that has been recognized for excellence by The New York Times, the BBC in London, M.I.T., Romantic Circles, and the BLTC "Site of the Day". His scholarly publications include essays and articles on Emerson and Thoreau, Chinua Achebe, Derek Walcott, Thomas Pynchon, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Werewere Liking, J. M. Coetzee, African exploration narratives, Victorian poetry, and travel writing. He has published numerous nature essays as well as poetry and fiction. In recent years he has delivered keynote addresses and lectures in nations around the world, including China, England, Italy, Japan, India, Portugal, Cameroon, and Morocco.

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