Philip and I are thrilled to say that the cover for Ecological Form is now finalized! And this seems like a good opportunity to share the table of contents for this collaborative project. The book, forthcoming in Fall 2018 from Fordham University Press, grew out of linked panels Philip and I organized for NAVSA 2015, in Honolulu, Hawaii, in which we hoped to convene Victorianists to think about the histories of dispossession and injury long studied as part of the story of Victorian empire in light of the ecological devastation that so often happened alongside it. The challenge in other words was to coordinate "the ecological" and "the imperial" so as to see these two stories as one: the results, we think, can help us think through the extent to which the nineteenth century has set the conditions for our present -- but also suggested avenues for contesting it. The cover image, which we like a lot, is "Polypodium Robertianum [The limestone polypod]," from Thomas Moore and John Lindley, The Ferns of Greater Britain and Ireland (London: Bradbury and Evans), 1847.
We're so grateful to the book's amazing contributors for their incredible labor and even more incredible patience; we're honored to appear with them in these pages. Stay tuned for details about publication dates, etc.
Ecological Form : Abstract
Victorian England was both the world’s first industrial society and its most powerful global empire. Ecological Form coordinates those facts to show how one version of the Anthropocene first emerged into visibility in the nineteenth century. Many of that era’s most sophisticated observers recognized that the systemic interconnections and global scale of both empire and ecology posed challenges best examined through aesthetic form. Using “ecological formalism” to open new dimensions to our understanding of the Age of Coal, contributors reconsider Victorian literary structures in light of environmental catastrophe; coordinate “natural” questions with social ones; and underscore the category of form—as built structure, internal organizing logic, and generic code—as a means for generating environmental and therefore political knowledge. Together these essays show how Victorian thinkers deployed an array of literary forms, from the elegy and the industrial novel to the utopian romance and the scientific treatise, to think interconnection at world scale. They also renovate our understanding of major writers like Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, John Ruskin, and Joseph Conrad, even while demonstrating the centrality of less celebrated figures, including Dinabandhu Mitra, Samuel Butler, and Joseph Dalton Hooker, to contemporary debates about the humanities and climate change. As the essays survey the circuits of dispossession linking Britain to the Atlantic World, Bengal, New Zealand, and elsewhere—and connecting the Victorian era to our own—they advance the most pressing argument of Ecological Form, which is that past thought can be a resource for reimagining the present.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction. Ecological Formalism; or, Love among the Ruins
Nathan K. Hensley and Philip Steer
Part 1: Method
Chapter 1. Drama, Ecology, and the Ground of Empire: The Play of Indigo
Chapter 2. Let the Ape and Tiger Die? Reading In Memoriam in the Age of Extinction
Jesse Oak Taylor
Chapter 3. Signatures of the Carboniferous: The Literary Forms of Coal
Nathan K. Hensley and Philip Steer
Part 2: Form
Chapter 4. Fixed Capital and the Flow: Water Power, Steam Power, and The Mill on the Floss
Elizabeth Carolyn Miller
Chapter 5. “Form Against Force”: Sustainability and Organicism in the Work of John Ruskin
Deanna K. Kreisel
Chapter 6. Mapping the “Invisible Region, Far Away” in Dombey and Son
Part 3: Scale
Chapter 7. How We Might Live: Utopian Ecology in William Morris and Samuel Butler
Chapter 8. From Specimen to System: Botanical Scale and the Environmental Sublime in Joseph Dalton Hooker’s Himalayas
Chapter 9. “Infinitesimal Lives”: Thomas Hardy’s Scale Effects
Part 4: Futures
Chapter 10. Delany’s Fetish: Atlantic Relational Materialisms
Chapter 11. Satire’s Ecology
Afterword: “They Would Have Ended by Burning Their Own Globe”
Nathan K. Hensley
Here's where I'll paste fragments of readings, ideas, and questions.