Teaching ecocriticism and green cultural studies

Teaching ecocriticism and green cultural studies is an anthology of articles that examine, from various perspectives, so-called eco-critical pedagogy in a humanistic context. The book was edited by Greg Garrard who has written and edited several books and articles about ecocriticism; for example, Ecocriticism (2004) and The Oxford handbook of ecocriticism (2014). In Teaching ecocriticism and green cultural studies, Greg Garrard uses the editor´s overview to present a very precise introduction to the field, including a chronology of the development of ecocriticism and a reference list. These are very useful for readers who are not familiar with the history of this broad field.

In the introduction, Greg Garrard states that ecocriticism has always been preoccupied with pedagogy. One of the intentions of ecocriticism is to develop ecological and critical awareness among students, and ecocriticism is closely linked to activism in teaching. Ecocriticism began at ‘teaching-led’ universities and colleges in the UK and USA, and Gerrard (p. 1) claims that the scholarly elite did not initially take an interest in the movement.

This book also has its roots in colleges and universities in an Anglo-American context. The authors of the thirteen chapters are scholars from different research communities in Canada, the USA and the UK. All of the cases and examples are from English-speaking classrooms in tertiary-education institutions.

The articles incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives on various media and genres, ranging from classical poetry to modern advertisements, you-tube videos, films, travel books and other kinds of non-fiction prose. A large number of ideas, practical tasks and advice are offered to the college teachers who want to employ new texts and unusual teaching strategies. First and foremost, the focus is on what teachers can do, immediately and practically, in their own classrooms. The ideal is to create thoughtful citizens through participatory learning in which the students really get involved in issues related, for example, to nature, the local community, climate change, and the consequences and possibilities of globalization.

The articles describe cases in which the students read, talk, walk, write, create and discuss with each other almost every issue related to nature and humanity. The participating students become engaged in analyzing various cultural constructions of nature, animals and other non-human characters, as well as various human and post-human conflicts and other fields of eco-critical interest. Furthermore, the students are required to use their own creativity and develop a variety of products. For example, in their writing, they address the issues of climate change and the problems of cosmopolitanism in varied ways using different rhetorical and stylistic repertoires. All the examples of courses presented in the articles are very impressive, although they build on well-known pedagogical principles that are already applied in the Nordic countries. Nevertheless, it is possible to gain many new ideas and learn about new materials and references from the book. Many of the articles also include very good theoretical introductions and discussions of the theoretical arguments for employing eco-critical perspectives in education.

Anna Karlskov Skygggebjerg

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