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Practical Ecocriticism

Literature, Biology, and the Environment
Glen A. Love

BUY Paper · 224 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813922454 · $26.00 · Dec 2003

Practical Ecocriticismis the first book to ground environmental literature firmly in the life sciences, particularly evolutionary biology, and to attempt to bridge the ever-widening gulf between the "Two Cultures." Glen Love—himself one of the founders of ecocriticism—argues that literary studies has been diminished by a general lack of recognition for the vital role the biological foundation of human life plays in cultural imagination. Love presents with great clarity and directness an invaluable model for how to incorporate Darwinian ideas—the basis for all modern biology and ecology—into ecocritical thinking.

Beginning with an overview of the field of literature and environment and its claim to our attention, and arguing for a biologically informed theoretical base for literary studies, Love then aims the lens of this critical perspective on the pastoral genre and works by canonical writers such as Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, and William Dean Howells. A markedly interdisciplinary and refreshingly accessible work, Practical Ecocriticism will interest and challenge the entire ecocritical community, as well as humanists, social scientists, and others concerned with the current rediscovery of human nature.


Love’s reputation precedes him: He was the single most influential intellectual spirit behind the takeoff phase of the ecocritical movement. A substantial, original contribution to the field, Practical Ecocriticism will be a widely influential book.

Lawrence Buell, author of Writing for an Endangered World: Literature, Culture, and Environment in the U.S. and Beyond

Practical Ecocriticism fills an important niche unoccupied by any other book. Love is mediating between two rapidly developing fields that have hitherto had only glancing connections: ecological literary criticism and evolutionary psychology. As he so persuasively argues, these fields are contiguous and interdependent. This is an immensely valuable contribution and should long provide a central point of reference and information.

Joseph Carroll, author of Evolution and Literary Theory

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