Affect, Emotion, and Ecocriticism


  • Alexa Weik von Mossner University of Klagenfurt



Affect, Emotion, Affective Ecocriticism, Cognitive Ecocriticism, Econarratology


      Our relationships to the environments that surround, sustain, and sometimes threaten us are fraught with emotion. And since, as neurologist Antonio Damasio has shown, cognition is directly linked to emotion, and emotion is linked to the feelings of the body, our physical environment influences not only how we feel, but also what we think. Importantly, this also holds true when we interact with artistic representations of such environments, as we find them in literature, film, and other media. For this reason, our emotions can take a rollercoaster ride when we read a book or watch a film. Typically, such emotions are evoked as we empathize with characters while also inhabiting emotionally the storyworlds that surround these characters and interact with them in various ways. Given this crucial interlinkage between environment, emotion, and environmental narrative in the widest sense, it is unsurprising that, from its inception, the study of literature and the environment has been interested in how ecologically oriented texts represent and provoke emotions in relation to the natural world. More recently, ecocritical scholars have started to develop a more sustained theoretical approach to exploring how affect and emotion function in environmentally oriented texts of all kinds. In this article, I will attempt to trace this development over time, briefly highlighting some of the most important texts and theoretical concepts in affective ecocriticism


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Author Biography

Alexa Weik von Mossner, University of Klagenfurt

Alexa Weik von Mossner is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Klagenfurt in Austria and an Affiliate at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the University of Munich, Germany. She worked for several years in the German film and television industry as a production manager and later scriptwriter before earning her Ph.D. in Literature at the University of California, San Diego in 2008. Her essays on cosmopolitanism and various ecocritical issues have been published in journals such as the African American Review, English Studies, Environmental Communication, and the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies. Her first monograph, currently entitled Moving Americans: Literature, Emotion, and the Cosmopolitan Imagination, is forthcoming with the University of Texas Press. She is the coeditor, with Christoph Irmscher, of a special issue of the European Journal of English Studies on Dislocations and Ecologies (2012) and is currently editing an essay collection on Emotion, Affect, and Ecocinema.  She is also working a new book on the imagination of global ecological risk in American popular culture narratives.










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