What Is Ecocriticism In Literature

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Ecocriticism: a Survey
Abstract
Ecocriticism is a literary critical branch emerging in the late 1970s attempted to explore the relationship between literature and environment. It attempts to reread major canonical literature by applying ecocentric and ecosystem related concepts to the same. The basic approach is to try to read literary works from the perspective of nature. It analyses human culture by positing it in comparison to the history of the natural world. The ecocritics are enthusiastically concerned over certain issues, such as: the role of the physical setting of a literary work; the metaphor of land or place; the connection between ecosystem and ecological literature. They prioritize the British Romantics and the American Transcendentalists.
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Nature has given man liberal space, man misappropriated it; nature offered livelihood, man reduced it as mere resource; the earth asserted ‘interdependent community’ (Glotfelty xx), man wanted ‘dominion’ (Lynn White Jr’s term, qtd in Clark 1); the result is unbridgeable rupture and fractured bonding. The situation is made further antagonistic by modern science which at the sametime distances man from the outside world and disturbs the ‘pre-existing web of relations’ (143) in nature; Jane Bennet mourns this authoritative stance of human science: “. . . this pre-modern world gave way to forces of scientific and instrumental rationality, secularism, industrialism, and the bureaucratic state – all of which, combined, disenchant the world” (ibid.). But the palpable and dualistic nexus of man with nature has its roots in the very anthropocentric foundation of human civilization. Many critics held that the Bible’s privileging of man and its consequent trivialization of the external world as resources to ‘exploit for his proper ends’ (White Jr. 10) are at the root of all present environmental crisis. Naturally the Euro-centric materialistic world view in its mad pursuit of worldly progress, coupled with the dominant ideology of enlightenment rationalism further marginalized nature, orienting man into a superior position compared to Nature and by foregrounding the validity of the rational (Descarthian – cogito ergo sum – ‘I think therefore I am’). These essentialist, humanist elements gained tremendous ascendency with the industrialization which impaired forever any chance, if at all, of man’s reentering into a pre-lapserian serene relationship with the natural world. The mechanization of man’s life with its predominately automatized, authoritative, manipulative, exploitative outlook led to
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