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Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts
Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts

Our Price:39.00
Authors: Christine Cusick
Affiliation: Seton Hill University USA
Publication Year: Hardback 2010
Pages: 286
Size: 234 x 156mm

ISBN: 9781859184547


Within the current climate of both literary and environmental studies Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts is an unprecedented integration of Irish Studies and Ecocriticism that is both timely and necessary. The essays offer ecocritical readings of Irish literary and cultural texts of various genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama and the visual image.

Long before there was a theoretical movement that gave a name to and vocabulary for literary readings of nature, scholars of Irish literature have understood the importance of the natural world to an Irish cultural sensibility. An emphasis on place not only pervades Irish writing of the twentieth century but also is in fact rooted in ancient traditions of Celtic mythology and place-lore. While critical assessments of Irish place writing are numerous, few of them address such representations of the natural world as politically and culturally informed and scripted texts. Even fewer of them address the ecological implications embedded in these ways of knowing place. This project explores the natural world as a record of and participant in the experiences of a vibrant and changing Ireland.

This study is thus aimed toward a readership within multiple disciplines whose specific research agenda is to examine what cultural representations of nonhuman nature reveal about how humans care for and dwell in place.


Introduction: John Elder
Wings beating on stone: Richard Murphy's ecology - Eamonn Wall
Dark outlines, grey stone: nature, home and the foreign in Lady Morgan's The Wild Irish Girl and William Carleton's The Black Prophet -Jefferson Holdridge
'Sympathy between man and nature': landscape and loss in Synge's Riders to the Sea-Joy Kennedy - O'Neill
'Nothing can happen nowhere': Elizabeth Bowen's figures in landscape - Joanna Tapp Pierce
George Moore's landscapes of return - Greg Winston
Ireland of the welcomes: colonialism, tourism and the Irish landscape -Ein Flannery
Between country and city: Paula Meehan's ecofeminist poetics - Kathryn Kirkpatrick
'Love poems, elegies: I am losing my place': Michael Longley's environmental elegies - Donna Potts
'Becoming animal' in the novels of Edna O'Brien - Maureen O'Connor
Reading the landscape for clues: environment in Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Miriam O'Kane Mara
Collaborative ecology in Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan - Karen O'Brien
Conclusion: Mindful paths: an interview with Tim Robinson - Christine Cusick

Average Rating: Average Rating: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 3 Write a review »

  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Christine Cusick s collection of Irish ecocriticis March 6, 2012
Reviewer: Karen Babine Irish Literary Supplement from Republic of Ireland  
Christine Cusick s collection of Irish ecocriticism is both long overdue and worth the wait. For its scope and execution  Out of the Earth will doubtlessly serve as a cornerstone and inspiration for future Irish ecocriticism.

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Colonized then sentimentalized and commodified p January 4, 2011
Reviewer: Harry Vandervlist University of Calgary Canada from Republic of Ireland  
Colonized  then sentimentalized and  commodified perhaps as much as any place on  earth can be  Ireland has of course been written   painted  and sung about in manifold ways. What  the essays collected in Out of the Earth begin to  demonstrate is just how much Irish writing of the  last century or so has been  strongly oriented to  nature   as John Elder puts it in his introduction.  This volume s eleven chapters span a wide range  of Irish writing: fiction from George Moore to  Roddy Doyle and Edna O Brien  poetry from  Michael Longley to Paula Meehan  and drama  from Synge s Riders to the Sea to McDonagh s The  Cripple of Inismaan. E in Flannery contributes a  study of colonial and touristic travel posters. A  concluding interview with Tim Robinson widens  the volume s scope to include this fascinating  figure whose work combines cartography  local  history  and prose in works such as The Stones of  Aran and Connemara: Listening to the Wind. The  material discussed may be Irish  but most of the  contributors are American  writing mainly from  colleges and state universities  does this say  anything about the kinds of places where  ecocritical writing has found the warmest  welcome so far?   Several of the essays connect ecocritical  with postcolonial themes in relation to the history  of representations of Ireland. As John Elder  describes it  such  affinities between ecocritical  concerns and current approaches in postcolonial  studies  suggest  a literary turning in which the  appreciation of more lyrical forms of  nature  writing  has been balanced by an emphasis on  environmental justice.  From George Moore s   untilled fields  in the years after the famine to  the more recent spectre of industrial pollution  and suburban sprawl in the  Celtic Tiger  years   the land is always at stake in these discussions.  Three of the essays on more recent writing  articulate a strong sense of interconnectedness   or dissolution of boundaries  between the human  and the nonhuman. Donna Potts suggests that   while Michael Longley s emphasis on  interconnectedness obviously suggests an  alternative to Northern Ireland s legacy of  sectarian violence  his frequent references to  biological interconnectedness suggest that along  with his need to traverse social  cultural and  political boundaries is the need to challenge the  boundaries traditionally posited between self and  nature.  Karen O Brien argues that  the  representational and structural strategies in The  Cripple of Inismaan activate interconnectedness  in a way that resonates with the promise of  strengthening ecological bonds between the  human and nonhuman world and of promoting  an overall engagement with issues of  environmental sustainability and equilibrium.   Finally  in   Becoming Animal  in the novels of  Edna O Brien   Maureen O Connor writes that in  her late novels  O Brien not only confronts but  transcends what can be a problematic   feminisation  of the  other  by fusing man   woman and animal in the narratives  most  affecting moments of grace  however fleeting  they prove to be.   Even though ecocriticism now has at least a  thirty year history  occasionally an essay in this  collection slips back into terminologies and  usages which are being redefined and analyzed  THE GOOSE 47 ISSUE 8 FALL 2010  anew elsewhere in the same volume. In such  cases  terms such as  natural beauty  or   traditional cultures  come trailing clouds of the  very ideologies and mystifications such a  collection aims to defeat. Fortunately  this  happens rarely. The instance I refer to here comes  at the end of an otherwise illuminating and  worthwhile analysis of the child s eye view of  disappearing open spaces in Roddy Doyle s Paddy  Clarke Ha Ha Ha. It is in the conclusion of this  chapter that Miriam O Kane Mara seems to revert  to an uncritical use of terminology when she  writes:  The wheels of progress turn quickly and  problematically in Paddy Clarke s world to erase  all vestige of Ireland s natural beauty and its  traditional culture.  Is this the same  natural  beauty  framed and sentimentalized by  generations of colonizing landscape painters and   later  tourism promoters?  While most of the texts studied here  employ recognized genres the lyric  the drama   the novel  or the short story Tim Robinson s  work offers an inventive blend of mapping  oral  history  and literary creation which yields what  the Irish poet Moya Cannon calls an  interface  between language and landscape.  In the  interview included here  Robinson is astute in  recognizing that no matter how directly and  sensuously he interacts with the Irish places  or   echospheres   he evokes  only  prose  and prose  at length  recursive and excursive  can  act out  the building up of the overarching  underpinning   encircling  realities of sky  land and sea out of  uncountable glints of detail.  For Robinson  only  extended prose can communicate these  places  that are at once deeply humanised and richly  natural.  While the essays in this collection offer  several valuable looks back at the ways Irish texts  have engaged with nature  in the redefined  senses that ecocriticism confers that term   Robinson offe

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  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 LITERARY CRITICISM: Out of the Earth: Ecocritical September 20, 2010
Reviewer: Christina Hunt Mahony The Irish Times from Republic of Ireland  
LITERARY CRITICISM: Out of the Earth: Ecocritical Readings of Irish Texts Edited by Christine Cusick Cork University Press  269pp.  39 ECOLOGICAL APPROACHES to the arts have been developing worldwide since the 1960s  although ecocriticism  an umbrella term  was coined only 15 years ago.    A recent exhibition  at the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar  of disturbingly beautiful images that had won the Prix Pictet   Earth competition gave harrowing visual evidence of the havoc man is capable of wreaking upon Earth. The publication of prize winning novels by Barbara Kingsolver  JM Coetzee and Ian McEwan provides familiar literary examples on environmentalist themes. In the academy  Mary Immaculate College in Limerick recently hosted an ecocriticism conference. Thus this volume of critical essays on Irish texts  written almost exclusively by academics at American universities  is part of a thickening strand of responses to the interaction between culture and nature. The ecocritic views this connection as it specifically relates to man s stewardship of Earth past and present  although some would quibble with the implications of the term stewardship  as it privileges humankind above all else in nature.    The writers under consideration are either of the late 19th or 20th century  and a single essay concentrates on visual images. Some of the choices are more obvious than others. Irish readers would expect to find essays on Lady Morgan  that quintessential rambling man JM Synge and the poets Michael Longley and Richard Murphy  whose poetry often thrills with minutely observed flora and fauna.    More intriguingly  one also finds in these pages Martin McDonagh and Roddy Doyle. The Cripple of Inishmaan is evaluated in the light of its comic subtext   a lacerating treatment of Robert Flaherty s manipulation of the human  animal and botanical ecology of the Aran Islands in his film Man of Aran . Doyle s Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha is viewed as a critique of unplanned urban sprawl and its demoralising effect on those forced to live with the detritus. Rather than centring exclusively on bucolic regions or texts  ecocriticism can show us how deracination can come in newer guises:  There were fields past the Corporation houses but they were too far away now. Past the Corporation houses. Somewhere else.     The beam shone on these works occasions a thought for a mystifying omission from this collection  and a genuine lost opportunity. Derek Mahon s body of work  more than that of any other living Irish fiction writer  addresses the global and historical implications of the destructive material excesses of modernisation. He is unusual in that this is one of his declared subjects  yet there is no perspective on his work in this volume. Also missing is any sustained look at Seamus Heaney s bog poems  in which humans and the earth metaphorically or literally share organic substance.    Other ecocritical approaches explored here can be harder for the general reader to accommodate and include the zoomorphic treatment of women in the work of Edna O Brien and Paula Meehan  which situates them in closer relation to nature and in opposition to patriarchal hierarchies. The connection of land and the self in both Elizabeth Bowen s fiction and non fiction is essential to the extent that she believed that  when missing  the result was stunted personality  and a failure to thrive.    Lawrence Buell s The Environmental Imagination   one of the bibles of ecocriticism  is applied to the work of Michael Longley  linking his nature poetry to the historical and political reality in which he lives. Such writing  relies on the nonhuman environment not merely as a framing device but as a presence that begins to suggest that human history is implicated in natural history .    The Romantic origins of ecocriticism are visible to the reader in the black and white reproductions of commercially sponsored travel posters of the postwar era  most of which feature the tame and surprisingly 19th century views of lakes and mountains  contrasted with Dunluce Castle sublimely perched high above a tumultuous sea.    The botanically named John Elder  who lives  appropriately enough  in the Green Mountains of Vermont  provides a brief introduction to ecocritical thought  explaining that this undertaking is part of its second ideological wave and moves beyond aesthetic response to ethical concerns.    The volume concludes with an interview with the pioneering cultural cartographer Tim Robinson by its editor  Christina Cusick. Robinson  who seems wary of incursions from the academy  leaves us with the firm suggestion that literary critics should enter into environmental studies only in  muddy boots . At the very least the contributors to Out of the Earth seem to have put their wellies on.        Christina Hunt Mahony directed the Center for Irish Studies at the Catholic University of America and is the editor of Out of History: Essays on the Writings of Sebastian Barry  Carysfort Press

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