Among Forests, Wetlands and Animals: Ecocriticism in the Baltics
Keywords:The Baltics, ecocriticism, environmental history, animal studies, biosemiotics, environmental humanities
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania often tend to be grouped together under the label of ’the Baltic countries’, yet they constitute a region characterised by a diversity which also manifests itself in the field of academic research. Still, it may be possible to detect some common elements in the ecocriticism-related activities that have been taking place in these states during the past couple of decades. The article maps the salient tendencies in the environmental humanities (including ecocriticism) of the region that recently gained an institutionalised platform in the form of the Baltic Conferences on the Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences (BALTEHUMS) that were started in 2018. A survey is given of the three countries’ most significant events and publications that have boasted an ecocritical component, ecocriticism’s institutional representation and inclusion of ecocritical issues in university syllabuses and theory textbooks, as well as some pertinent topics and sub-fields on which the scholars in these countries are currently working. Among these, various aspects of the connections of literature and the ecosystems of the forest (trees) and the mire can be noticed; while also animal studies, literary urban studies, bio- and ecosemiotics and environmental history appear to have entered a fruitful dialogue with ecocritical scholarship currently conducted in the Baltics.
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