Chaos and Cosmos: Literary Roots of Modern Ecology in the British Nineteenth Century (Paperback)Heidi C. M. Scott (author)
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In Chaos and Cosmos, Heidi Scott integrates literary readings with contemporary ecological methods to investigate two essential and contrasting paradigms of nature that scientific ecology continues to debate: chaos and balance. Ecological literature of the Romantic and Victorian eras uses environmental chaos and the figure of the balanced microcosm as tropes essential to understanding natural patterns, and these eras were the first to reflect upon the ecological degradations of the Industrial Revolution. Chaos and Cosmos contends that the seed of imagination that would enable a scientist to study a lake as a microcosmic world at the formal, empirical level was sown by Romantic and Victorian poets who consciously drew a sphere around their perceptions in order to make sense of spots of time and place amid the globalizing modern world.
This study's interest goes beyond likening literary tropes to scientific aesthetics; it aims to theorize the interdisciplinary history of the concepts that underlie our scientific understanding of modern nature. Paradigmatic ecological ideas such as ecosystems, succession dynamics, punctuated equilibrium, and climate change are shown to have a literary foundation that preceded their status as theories in science. This book represents an elevation of the prospects of ecocriticism toward fully developed interdisciplinary potentials of literary ecology.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 23 mm
"Heidi Scott's book belongs to the 'new wave' of ecocriticism-scientifically literate and fully engaged with the urgent issues of environmental deterioration, global warming, and sustainability. She connects the new scientific zeitgeist of complexity and chaos with the poetics of ecology, showing how, intriguingly, the poets got there first. More importantly, the sciences and humanities share a single vision here, as they must if the planet is to be saved."
-Gillen D'Arcy Wood, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"This expansive, well-written, and provocative study employs key ecological tropes to generate important new insights into the environmental valence of Romantic and Victorian literature. Heidi Scott's close examination of narratives of apocalypse and toxicity is especially powerful, as is her connection of an emergent nineteenth-century ecology to current ecological paradigms, including chaotic change, disturbance ecology, and natural systems theory. Profoundly interdisciplinary in bridging the natural sciences, the humanities, and the cultural discourses of ecology, Chaos and Cosmos is a genuinely significant contribution to current scholarship in ecocriticism."
-Michael P. Branch, University of Nevada, Reno
"Heidi Scott's book deserves to be an instant classic of ecocritical analysis. Written in clear, often memorably vivid prose, Chaos and Cosmos is at once uniquely informed by scientific ecology and deeply satisfying as a work of literary criticism."
-Greg Garrard, University of British Columbia
"Scott offers a deeply compelling illustration of what a genuinely interdisciplinary critical attempt can look like, and she does so with boldness, warmth, and a profound knowledge of both cultures she addresses."
-Arden Hegele, Studies in Romanticism
"The range of the book is wide and ambitious. A reader interested in the long nineteenth century as well as contemporary ecological matters should read this book."
-Ann C. Colley, Victorian Studies
"A thoughtful addition to an ecocritical idiom characterized by shuttling between current concerns and past resources."
-Daniel Williams, Victorian Literature and Culture
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