Climate Crisis and the 21st-Century British Novel – introductory remarks

My book, Climate Crisis and the 21st-Century British Novel, is published on November 2nd. In it I discuss how a wide variety of literary fictions reflect contemporary awareness of climate crisis, and participate in the construction of the stories that we tell about climate crisis. In the weeks leading up to and following the book’sContinue reading “Climate Crisis and the 21st-Century British Novel – introductory remarks”

A defence of storytelling: John Burnside’s Ashland & Vine and the visual arts

There are often references to the visual arts in John Burnside’s novels. In The Locust Room (2001) the photography of Raymond Moore stands for the kind of vision that the main character tries to achieve. In A Summer of Drowning (2011), the focus shifts to painting. The main character’s mother is a famous painter andContinue reading “A defence of storytelling: John Burnside’s Ashland & Vine and the visual arts”

Talk on climate crisis narratives (OSL Ravenstein seminar on ecocriticism)

In January 2017 I gave a talk for the OSL Ravenstein Seminar on ecocriticism. It was based on a chapter in my forthcoming book, Climate Crisis and the Twenty-First-Century British Novel, about climate crisis narratives. I talked about the ways in which a sense of immediacy is created in Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) and TheContinue reading “Talk on climate crisis narratives (OSL Ravenstein seminar on ecocriticism)”

Narrating crisis: the stories we tell about floods

I have recently become fascinated by flood narratives. Part of that, perhaps, has to do with growing up on a (former) island on which the memory of the 1953 North Sea flood is still very much alive. It also has to do with contemporary circumstances, especially how floods are presented as a consequence of environmentalContinue reading “Narrating crisis: the stories we tell about floods”

Announcing Climate Crisis and the 21st-century British Novel

I’m fascinated by how we talk about nature and how we imagine it. Contemporary stories about nature are the topic of my new book, Climate Crisis and the 21st-century British Novel. The way we think about nature goes beyond new nature writing or documentaries of the kind that became popular after Al Gore’s An InconvenientContinue reading “Announcing Climate Crisis and the 21st-century British Novel”

Seeing the Human in Nature in New British Nature Writing

In my previous post, I wrote about form as an important part of new nature writing. I discussed how authors use experimental form to redefine nature – what I think is a defining feature of the genre. At the end of the post, I started to look at Olivia Laing’s To the River and CharlesContinue reading “Seeing the Human in Nature in New British Nature Writing”

Finding a Shape to Write About Nature

New nature writing is surprisingly hotly debated. In the New Statesman recently, Mark Cocker and Robert Macfarlane debated the genre, and especially Cocker’s claim that it was too “tame”. This kind of debate is interesting to me, because it says a lot about how people whom we call new nature writers define the genre. I’llContinue reading “Finding a Shape to Write About Nature”

Urban Nature

“Seeing nature in the city is only a matter of perception”- Anne Spirn. The Granite Garden. At least since the turn of the century, attention to nature in cities is increasing – from Transition Towns to green design, from Edgelands to Field Notes from a Hidden City. There’s also wealth of research on the benefitsContinue reading “Urban Nature”

Typically feminine? Or, Gender in New Nature Writing Part 2

Last year I wrote a post about the role of gender in new nature writing and concluded that much new nature writing, like “old”, presents experiences of nature as distinctly male rites of passages, with “the remote concerns of the British isles as the not-so-new-frontier”. As Jeremy Solnick notes in a comment on that post,Continue reading “Typically feminine? Or, Gender in New Nature Writing Part 2”

Why Flight Behaviour Works as a Climate Crisis Novel – and why Solar doesn’t

Even though I’ve had a Kindle for years, I allow myself to buy the occasional ‘real’ book. Last Saturday I picked up Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour (2012). Of course, I’d heard about the novel before, but frankly I was hesitant about reading another ‘climate/environmental novel’. Given my field of research – ecocriticism – that hesitationContinue reading “Why Flight Behaviour Works as a Climate Crisis Novel – and why Solar doesn’t”