“Unusual Greenness”: Approaching Medievalist Ecomaterialism
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Griffin, M. (2018). “Unusual Greenness”: Approaching Medievalist Ecomaterialism. Exemplaria, 30 (2), 172-181. https://doi.org/10.1080/10412573.2018.1453656
The books reviewed in this essay bring together various strands of thought that center on the material and the nonhuman in the Middle Ages: the things and landscapes that furnish, ground, and transmit medieval texts, but that until relatively recently have not necessarily been acknowledged as being worthy of scholarly scrutiny. These strands of thought are informed by a range of theoretical and philosophical standpoints, and while it is tricky to assign a label to cover all these approaches, I follow Randy P. Schiff and Joseph Taylor, who, in the lucid introduction to their excellent volume The Politics of Ecology, use the term “ecomaterialism,” signaling that their perspective “moves criticism toward the important task of bringing human and nonhuman actors into a single vista” (10). Designating this reading practice as “ecomaterialism” also allows scholars to move beyond “ecocriticism,” an approach that focuses almost exclusively on the natural environment, and that Vin Nardizzi outlined in a recent postmedieval review article (2013) featuring some of these titles. Ecomaterialism, as I’m using it here then, refers to a critical stance that attends to ecology (from, as all these authors remind us, oikos, the Greek for home) in a very broad sense. Ecomaterialism, in a host of ways, encompasses the scope of material and matter that surrounds and supports literary production and practice—from the landscapes in which literature is composed and set, through to the artefacts that transmit that literature and feature in its tales, the human and nonhuman agents who provide inspiration and material for it, and the networks of tales that it relates.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10412573.2018.1453656
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/284573