Over the last ten years, major impulses for innovation in literary studies have come from research areas that label themselves "humanities," in contrast to the "isms" of earlier decades: digital humanities, first and foremost, as well as medical humanities, spatial humanities, environmental humanities, and public humanities. The transdisciplinarity implied by these labels has a somewhat different texture in each case. The digital and medical humanities are entirely new fields, one prompted by the availability of innovative tools for archiving and analysis, the other by a new interest in how story-telling functions in medical contexts and how medical issues are represented in literature, film, and the visual arts. The spatial humanities draw on new digital tools such as GIS data and interactive maps, but also on an older interest in the spatial understanding of verbal and visual texts and intersections with geographical inquiry. The environmental humanities are currently emerging from the convergence of research areas that have followed distinct disciplinary trajectories to date: ecocriticism, environmental philosophy, environmental history, biological and cultural anthropology, cultural geography, political ecology, communication studies and gender studies, among others. The challenge for the environmental humanities lies in staking out common conceptual and methodological ground between these areas, as well as in how environmental perspectives are articulated differently within the framework of particular disciplines.

Comparative Literature has not pioneered any of these new fields. Waves of theoretical innovation from the 1970s to the '90s were often either initiated by comparatists or found their first institutional home in departments of Comparative Literature. Not so over the last two decades, when comparative approaches have made their influence felt only belatedly in many emergent fields. Ecocriticism started out in the early 1990s as a new research focus in American literature – its first professional organization, the Association of the Study for Literature and Environment (ASLE) was founded in the backroom of a casino in Reno, Nevada, during a convention of the Western Literature Association (WLA) in 1993. During its first decade, ecocritical research focused above all on American traditions of non-fiction nature writing (from Henry David Thoreau and Susan Fenimore Cooper to Wendell Berry and Annie Dillard), nature poetry, and Native American literature, as well as on British Romantic nature poets and their successors.

Comparatist impulses transformed the field after the turn of the millennium in a variety of directions, broadening the canon of its objects of study and the range of theoretical perspectives brought to bear on them. Americanist ecocritics turned their attention to minority literatures that could be less easily assimilated into pastoralist or nature-oriented traditions: Michael Bennett, for example, pointed out that in contrast to the texts preferred by ecocritics, African American works more often associate rural landscapes with slaveholder plantations than self-sufficient homesteading, forests with the hunt for escaped slaves more often than with therapeutic retreats into the wilderness, and cities more often with freedom and autonomy than  with soul-deadening expanses of concrete (Bennett 195-210). Americanist ecocritics working outside the US, in countries such as Germany, Japan, and Taiwan, started out with their own approaches to classical authors such as Thoreau, Edward Abbey or Gary Snyder, and then worked to link their findings to the literatures of their own countries and to collaborate with specialists in these traditions.

Postcolonial ecocritics, from the mid-2000s onward, drew new attention to the convergences between colonial oppression and ecological degradation, to the unequal distribution of resources and risks, and in some cases, to first-world activists' complicity in perpetuating conditions of environmental injustice. In the process, they refocused part of the field's energy on the literatures of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, India, and Latin America.[1] At the same time, theoretically oriented ecocritics sought to connect environmental analysis with theories of displacement, diaspora, nomadism, hybridization, mestizaje, globalization, and cosmopolitanism that had gained momentum in literary studies since the 1990s (Buell, "Ecoglobalist Affect"; Heise, Sense of Planet Ch.1). Even more recently, specialists and comparatists focusing on East Asian literature have developed ecocriticism in the contexts of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese literature.[2] With a history of more than twenty years, a US-based professional organization that numbers over 1,500 members, and more than half a dozen sister organizations in other parts of the world, ecocriticism has outgrown the profile of an "emergent" disciplinary formation.

But telling the story of ecocriticism as the victory of comparatism and transnational collaboration comes with its own set of problems. The emphasis on growth, expansion, and increased diversity can take on overtones of disciplinary turf war and triumphalism as easily as of deepened knowledge. It hides how much of the comparatist work has remained within the purview of anglophone literatures: analyses that cross linguistic borders remain a small minority to date, though this may change in the future. It obscures how much American literature – in a comparatist context, more precisely: US-American literature – remains dominant in the field, and how sophisticated and diverse this work itself has grown. And at least implicitly, the narrative of ecocriticism's international expansion also tends to taint Americanist ecocritics with the brush of parochialism, while it flatters comparatists with the frequent-flyer aura of worldliness and cross-cultural fluency – in spite of the fact that it is the tireless efforts of one Americanist, Scott Slovic, which have contributed more than anyone else's to the institutionalization of ecocriticism around the world.

I believe that there are other, more interesting stories to tell about the encounter between comparative literature and ecocriticism – stories not so much about the victory of comparatism as about ideas and developments that challenge literary studies in their usual form. Three of these challenges strike me as particularly relevant: the challenge of nonfiction, the challenge of the environmental humanities as a transdisciplinary matrix, and the challenge of the Anthropocene in its tension with theories of posthumanism.

1. Comparative Ecocriticism and the Challenge of Nonfiction

In 2010, Djelal Kadir approached me in his role as one of the editors of the Routledge Companion to World Literature for a contribution on world literature and the environment. With David Damrosch's definition of world literature as literary texts that circulate beyond their context of origin in mind, I thought it would be interesting to focus on the text that is often claimed to have started the US-American environmentalist movement as well as similar movements around the world: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962), a work of nonfiction that is often praised for its literary qualities. Retracing the itinerary of this book across languages and countries, I thought, would highlight the importance of nonfiction prose and documentary film for environmental thought and activism, but would also demonstrate how such works circulate in ways that fit the definition of world literature.

But the more I researched translation dates and read histories of the emergence of environmental movements in a variety of countries and regions, the more I was overcome by a sense of unease. True, Silent Spring was translated into most of the major European languages within a decade of its publication and was known to many West European environmentalists by the 1970s, and some of its translations into other languages did resonate with local environmental struggles: the 1969 Japanese translation, for example, with the unfolding disaster of mercury poisoning in Minamata and growing concern over environmental and household toxins that crystallized in such fictional works as Ariyoshi Sawako's Compound Pollution (複合汚染; Fukugō osen, 1975). But the work that was mentioned most frequently in histories and autobiographies chronicling the emergence of environmental awareness and activism across a variety of regions turned out to be not Silent Spring but The Limits to Growth, Donella and Dennis L. Meadows's report to the Club of Rome (1972). World literature? A hard case to make. Whatever the merits of The Limits to Growth may be, literary storytelling is not one of them, and I found myself the closest I had ever come to the experience of a failed lab experiment. With the submission deadline looming, I decided to focus my essay on a more conventional argument instead, the interleaving of ecological and cultural misunderstandings in four recent novels from different parts of the world.

This example points to one of the difficulties to the otherwise successful encounter of environmentalism and literary criticism. Environmental movements in many parts of the world have been inspired and energized by texts and films, from the writings of Mohandas Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau to Rachel Carson and Vandana Shiva, and films from Bernhard Grzimek's Serengeti darf nicht sterben [Serengeti Must Not Die, 1959) to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (2006), and television series from Félix Rodríguez de la Torre's El hombre y la tierra in the 1960s to the BBC's Blue Planet (2006). But these television series and films are documentaries, and the texts are nonfiction prose. That doesn't mean that literary analysis cannot shed light on them – quite the contrary: Lawrence Buell's work is often credited with opening up an entire canon of nature writing to literary analysis that had not formed part of the American literature canon before. This particular type of literary but nonfictional writing about nature is not as common in other cultural traditions as it is in the US, however, and when literary critics turn to the analysis of popular science publications, travel writing, newspaper and magazine articles, and documentary film, their work begins to resemble similar analyses being conducted in communications and media studies departments.

Is this a problem? Yes, if we're concerned about the disciplinary identity of literary studies in general and comparative literature in particular in an age of shrinking humanities budgets (few literary critics profess any joy at being compared to, let alone integrated into a communications department). Yes, if we believe that literary and aesthetic strategies constitute a research area of their own that cannot be properly accommodated within a broader framework of rhetoric, communication, and media analysis. No, if we consider the attention to nonfiction as simply the latest development in the expansion of literary studies to a wide variety of textual, visual, and other objects that began with cultural studies in the 1980s. No, if we consider nonfiction works as another means of manifesting our concern about nature, different from literary approaches in their rhetorical strategies, affect, and audiences, but not in the underlying concerns.[3] No, if we envision comparative ecocriticism as one strand in the emergent matrix of the environmental humanities.

2. From Comparative Ecocriticism to Environmental Humanities

Given the title of this essay, it will come as no surprise that my own preferences go toward defining the contributions of literary studies within the framework of the environmental humanities – even if that implies a weakening of the institutional case for literature departments in their current form. Ecocriticism as it has developed so far has achieved its greatest successes at what one might broadly call the thematic level (Buell, Future): it has opened new canons of writing dedicated to nature for literary analysis, as mentioned earlier; it has reread classical literary texts – from William Shakespeare to Thomas Pynchon, from José Eustasio Rivera to Alejo Carpentier, or from ninth-century waka poets to Miyazawa Kenji – in terms of their concerns with the human impact on nature; it has reinterpreted the connection between imperialism and ecological degradation across vast swaths of postcolonial literature; and it has generated new attention to the role of nonhuman forms of agency in literary texts, the agency of plants, animals, objects, landscapes, and weather. In the process, it has shed light on the environmental uses of genres such as pastoral, elegy, and apocalypse, and it has diagnosed the rhetorical ingredients that routinely go into descriptions of toxicity and its effects on humans and habitats. Arguably, it is these analyses of environmental rhetoric, the shaping power of certain templates of genre, narrative, metaphor, or affect, that carry over most usefully to the study of non-literary works such as environmental travel narratives or documentaries. Ecocriticism has been less successful in developing modes of analysis that would carry over to texts not substantially concerned with any aspect of nature: experimental traditions of poetry in the twentieth century, for example, or large amounts of urban literature have proven difficult to engage through an environmentalist perspective.

Feminist criticism, at a certain point in its development, shifted from criticism of writing by women, about women, and for women, to a methodology that highlighted gender tropes as shaping forces in texts that had nothing to do with men and women in the literal sense (the gendering of "Mother Nature" being a prominent example). This shift toward the broader concept of gender studies made feminist approaches impossible to ignore in any type of literary or cultural analysis. It is hard to see how ecocriticism could follow a similar trajectory in the framework of literary studies, tantalizing though it may be to envision what an "environmental narratology," for example, might look like. Speaking somewhat schematically, the impact of ecocriticism in literary studies is likely to continue to make itself most clearly felt in the transformation of archives, canons, and thematic elements that attract analytic attention, whereas its impact in the framework of environmental humanities will more likely lie in the tools of rhetorical and aesthetic analysis it provides.

Understanding these different kinds of impact requires some explanation. Why environmental humanities rather than environmental studies, to begin with? Environmental studies as an interdisciplinary area has existed since the mid-1960s and established a prominent institutional presence through a multiplicity of programs and departments, and it would indeed seem the logical institutional framework within which to consider the future development of comparative environmental criticism. In practice, however, environmental studies programs have mostly focused on the natural sciences and on the segment of the social sciences that concerns itself with policy, public opinion, and environmental law. The humanities are rarely represented in such program – with the notable exception of programs such as the one at the University of Oregon-Eugene or York University in Toronto –  and play a subordinate role when they are. Over the last decade, the environmental humanities have emerged as an intellectual framework that prioritizes connections between the various humanities disciplines that have pursued environmentally oriented research over the last few decades, as mentioned earlier: environmental philosophy, environmental history, environmental literary studies, cultural and biological anthropology, cultural geography, political ecology, communication and media studies, gender studies, and religious studies.[4]

Each of these fields has so far pursued environmental research mostly within the framework of its own discipline – with good reason: environmental scholarship needed to establish itself first as a legitimate research area in disciplines that had not considered questions of biology, ecology, nature, or environmental crisis as part of their purview. The current recognition that environmental crisis and, more broadly, humans' uses of nature have to be a primary concern for humanistic research opens up wider possibilities for redefining environmental scholarship beyond, in between, or outside of disciplinary conventions. While the by now clichéd concept of "interdisciplinarity" is hard to avoid in this context, collaboration between humanistic disciplines and some parts of the social sciences is hardly a matter of breaking down hard-and-fast boundaries that have unduly isolated individual research efforts from each other: literary studies, after all, has liberally imported concepts and methods from history and philosophy since at least the 1960s, and one important dimension of postmodernism in intellectual life, as David Simpson has shown, was the export of literary concepts such as narrative, voice, and point of view to other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (The Academic Postmodern). Envisioning the environmental humanities, therefore, does not just mean identifying shared environmental concerns and concepts across various disciplines, but also discovering how similar environmental concerns – the concept of the "land," say, the portrayal of toxicity, the role of environmental injustice, questions of individual and collective agency, or the tension between the injunctions to live more slowly and act more promptly – play themselves out differently in different disciplinary contexts. In exploring such similarities and differences, the environmental humanities not only seeks to respond to the call for new institutional formations to correspond to innovative kinds of knowledge, but also to translate humanistic research more effectively into the public sphere. While it is clear that a good deal of humanistic scholarship does not lend itself to immediate translation into the sphere of environmental policy and politics, much of it does lay the necessary foundations for informed discussions and collective decisions about our present and future relationships with nature.

3. Comparative Literature in the Anthropocene

Comparative literary scholars, especially in collaboration with anthropologists, add to this sense of disciplinary difference a detailed knowledge of cultural differences in the encounter with global ecological crises – including the sense, on the part of not a few communities in the global South, that certain environmental policies are themselves part and parcel of recurrent strategies of intrusion and domination on the part of nations in the global North. But while some comparatist ecocritics continue to emphasize the importance of socio-economic inequality in current environmental geopolitics or the shaping influence of divergent cultural assumptions in the encounter with crisis, others have recently highlighted similarities that cut across national, linguistic, and cultural borders due to the pressure of global crises such as climate change, biodiversity loss, or pervasive toxification, which affect all humans even if they were not caused by all in equal measure.

 I have discussed these different comparatist perspectives elsewhere, especially how they might be understood in the broader context of the concept of the "Anthropocene," a new geological era characterized by humans' pervasive transformation of the planet.[5] Referring to the Anthropocene and its most discussed ecological consequence, climate change, the historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has suggested in an influential essay that humanistic scholarship, which in recent decades has formulated its most important theories around foundational differences, whether they be of class, race, gender, or power, needs to make a new attempt to envision the human species as a whole as an agent of historical change. A new form of universalism is necessary in this context, Chakrabarty argues, even if this universalism can only be envisioned negatively, in terms of what it is not, if it is to avoid the error of past universalisms – generalizing the characteristics of one particular culture as the universal yardstick of the human, with dire consequences for those judged to fall short of this measure ("Climate of History"). The framework of controversy between Chakrabarty and his critics over the necessity of such a new universalism helps to situate the different ways in which comparatist approaches have inflected environmental analyses and generated the divergent emphases on cross-cultural similarity and difference in recent work. Even if we accept Chakrabarty's challenge of conceiving the human species as a new kind of agent, I have argued, what the human means cannot be considered a biological given in this context, but must be carefully assembled from the analysis of social and cultural differences. There is no freeway from ecological crisis to human universalism that does not have to retrace the byways and detours of difference (Heise, "Comparative Ecocriticism," forthcoming).

In the context of this Report on the State of the Discipline, I'd like to shift the focus from the role of comparatism in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities to the reverse question: What difference does the environmental perspective make for Comparative Literature? Beyond a new attention to the material – specifically, ecological – foundations of comparatism, from the economic structures that enable the circulation of world literature to the carbon footprint of the international airplane trips that often function like a merit badge in the discipline, recent work in the environmental humanities challenges us to reconsider the centrality of the human.[6] A wide range of theories that one might classify under the label "posthumanism"  are inviting us to reconsider human existence, intentionality, and agency as only part of networks that also include other modes of being and agency.

Some of these theories are of recent vintage, while others date back to the 1980s; some have emerged from environmentalism proper, others from a broader consideration of nonhuman agents; some of them use the posthumanist label, while others use different terminologies. Some of them focus on systems, some on machines, others on objects, yet others on animals. But they share the goal of rethinking the centrality of human agency – especially that of the liberal humanist subject of the Enlightenment, and in this respect they stand in a palpable tension with the centrality of human agency in debates surrounding the Anthropocene. These theories include Actor-Network Theory as it has been developed by Bruno Latour, Michel Callon and John Law since the 1980s, with its emphasis on "heterogeneous" social networks that consist of human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate agents that relate to each other in material as well as semiotic ways. Niklas Luhmann's brand of systems theory sees individuals and societies as systems that operate in each other's environments rather than individuals as part of societies. A variety of "new materialisms" proposed by Karen Barad, Stacy Alaimo, Serenella Iovino, and Serpil Oppermann, among others, have sought to redefine human minds and bodies as "transcorporeal" vectors (Alaimo, Bodily Natures) in relations and material flows that constitute the human subject in and through ecological networks. Jane Bennett's new vitalism, in somewhat similar but not explicitly environmentalist fashion, explores the vibrant agency of matter. Objects make an appearance mostly by way of their human relations and significance in Bill Brown's thing theory, whereas object-oriented ontology as proposed by Graham Harman, Levy Bryant, Quentin Meillassoux, and Timothy Morton seeks to free objects from such "correlationism" and to explore them on their own terms, even as OOO also emphasizes that objects will ultimately always remain withdrawn from human knowledge. Animal studies as pioneered by Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Roberto Esposito, Donna Haraway, and Cary Wolfe have questioned the foundational distinction between human and animal along with its political implications, and even more recent work in plant studies by such anthropologists as Matthew Hall and Edward Kohn has formulated analogous doubts about the category of the plant.

Similar inquiries have also been pursued in anthropology under the somewhat different labels of multispecies ethnography, etho-ethnology, or zooanthropology. A good deal of this work also has at least some of its roots in Actor-Network Theory, and some of it is influenced by Donna Haraway's work on "companion species." Anthropologists working in Australia and the US such as Eben Kirksey, Stefan Helmreich, and Anna Tsing have proposed multispecies ethnography as a new approach for anthropological research, followed by elaborations on the part of Australian literary critics Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren. In Belgium and France, Dominique Lestel, Florence Brunois, Florence Gaunet, and Viviane Desprets have suggested "étho-ethnologie" and "ethno-éthologie" as parallel shifts from the usual anthropological focus on the human to the study of the interspecies relationships that enable what we usually consider "human communities," as has Roberto Marchesini's "zooantropologia" in Italy. Even more radically, Philippe Descola's and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro's studies of Amazonian cosmologies have led them to explore "perspectival multinaturalism," according to which it is culture that is shared between humans and nonhumans, whereas nature distinguishes them – the ultimate inversion of Euro-American philosophical assumptions in Latour's perspective (War of the Worlds).

This somewhat breathless enumeration is not meant to minimize the differences and even incompatibilities between some of these strands of thought – new materialists and object-oriented ontologists, for example, have little sympathy for each other's foundational assumptions. But it is meant to suggest some of the breadth and variety in reconceptualizations of the human that have been undertaken across the humanities and social sciences over the last thirty years. Through ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, some of this body of thought is now reshaping comparatist work, complementing comparatists' traditional interest in linguistic, cultural, and other differences between humans with a layer of inquiry that focuses on the relationships between humans, other species, and the inanimate world. Social and economic stratifications as well as cultural conventions work to produce these relationships differently in different places – but the more-than-human world also produces human differences in a variety of ways, as the new work in the environmental humanities is beginning to show. The comparatism of the future, in between the concept of the Anthropocene and theories of posthumanism, will have to engage with both vectors of production.


Works Cited

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

Bennett, Michael. "Anti-Pastoralism, Frederick Douglass, and the Nature of Slavery." Beyond Nature Writing: Exploring the Boundaries of Ecocriticism. Eds. Karla Armbruster and Kathleen R. Wallace. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2001. 195-210. Print.

Buell, Lawrence. "Ecoglobalist Affects: The Emergence of U.S. Environmental Imagination on a Planetary Scale." Shades of the Planet: American Literature as World Literature. Eds. Wai Chee Dimock and Lawrence Buell. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007. 227-248. Print.

- - -. The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. Print.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring: Fortieth Anniversary Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. [1962]. Print.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. "The Climate of History: Four Theses." Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197-222. Print.

Crutzen, Paul J. "Geology of Mankind." Nature 415 (3 January 2002): 23. Print.

---, and Eugene F. Stoermer. "The 'Anthropocene.'" Global Change Newsletter 41 (2000): 17–18. Print.

DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M., Renée K. Gosson, and George B. Handley, eds. Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 2005. Print.

Estok, Simon C., and Won-Chung Kim, eds.     East Asian Ecocriticisms: A Critical Reader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.

Forns-Broggi, Roberto. Nudos como estrellas: ABC de la imaginación ecológica en nuestras Américas. Lima: Nido de Cuervos, 2012. Print.

Handley, George. New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott. Athens : U of Georgia P, 2007. Print.

Heise, Ursula K. "Comparative Ecocriticism in the Anthropocene." Komparatistik (May 2014): forthcoming.

---. "Globality, Difference, and the International Turn in Ecocriticism." PMLA 128.3 (2013): 636-643. Print.

---. Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.

Huggan, Graham, and Helen Tiffin. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment. London: Routledge, 2010. Print.

Latour, Bruno. War of the Worlds: What About Peace? Trans. Charlotte Bigg. Ed. John Tresch. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2002. Print.

Marcone, Jorge. "De retorno a lo natural: La serpiente de oro, la 'novela de la selva' y la crítica ecológica." Hispania: Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese 81 (1998): 299-308. Print.

---. "Jungle Fever: Primitivism in Environmentalism, Rómulo Gallegos's Canaima, and the Romance of the Jungle." Primitivism and Identity in Latin America: Essays on Art, Literature, and Culture. Eds. Erik Camayd-Freixas and José Eduardo González. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2000. 157-72. Print.

Marzec, Robert P.  An Ecological and Postcolonial Study of Literature: From Daniel Defoe to Salman Rushdie. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Print.

Meadows, Donella, Dennis L. Meadows, and Jørgen Randers. Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future. Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green, 1992.

---, Jørgen Randers, and Dennis L. Meadows. Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2004.

---, Dennis L. Meadows, Jørgen Randers, and William W. Behrens III. The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New York: Universe, 1972.

Mukherjee, Upamanyu Pablo. Postcolonial Environments: Nature, Culture and the Contemporary Indian Novel in English. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2011. Print.

O'Brien, Susie. "Articulating a World of Difference: Ecocriticism, Postcolonialism and Globalization." Canadian Literature 170-171 (2001): 140-58. Print

Rose, Deborah Bird, Thom van Dooren, Matthew Chrulew, Stuart Cooke, Matthew Kearnes. and Emily O’Gorman. "Thinking Through the Environment, Unsettling the Humanities." Environmental Humanities 1 (2012): 1-5. www.environmentalhumanities.org. Accessed 1 July 2013. Web.

Shirane, Haruo. Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts. New York: Columbia UP, 2012. Print.

Simpson, David. The Academic Postmodern and the Rule of Literature: A Report on Half-Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Print.

Sörlin, Sverker. "Environmental Humanities: Why Should Biologists Interested in the Environment Take the Humanities Seriously?" BioScience 62 (2012): 788-789. Print.

Thornber, Karen. Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crises and East Asian Literature. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2012. Print.

Yuki, Masami. Tabi no houe [The Hearth of Contemporary Japanese Women Writers: Ecocritical Approaches to Literary Foodscapes]. Tokyo: Suiseisha, 2012. Print.


[1] For a sample of this work, see DeLoughrey et al.; Forns-Broggi; Handley; Marcone, "De retorno" and "Jungle Fever"; Marzec; Mukherjee; Nixon; O'Brien.

[2] See the contributions of Estok and Kim; Shirane; Thornber; and Yuki, among many others.

[3] Rob Nixon's Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, for example, moves seamlessly back and forth between fictional and nonfictional texts.

[4] For initial programmatic outlines of the environmental humanities, see Rose et al. and Sörlin.

[5] The notion of the Anthropocene was proposed in 200o by the atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen and the ecologist Eugene Stoermer ("Anthropocene") and further elaborated by Crutzen in "Geology of Mankind." I have explored the different emphases on cross-cultural parallels in the engagement with ecological crisis and on the continuing importance of the economic divide between global South and global North in "Globality" and "Comparative Ecocriticism."

[6] Jennifer Wenzel delivered a brilliant presentation on the different understandings of the global in the "world" of world literature and the "planet" in environmental thought at the ACL(x) conference at Penn State University in September 2013.