New Ecocriticisms: Narrative, Affective, Empirical and Mindful


  • Greta Gaard University of Wisconsin, River Falls



eco-affects, storyworld, narrative, empiricism, mindfulness, psychic numbing


      What seem like “new” developments in Ecocriticism have actually been nascent, articulated in conversations and blogs, soon emerging in presentations and print over the past five or more years. Responding to climate change numbing, ecocritics have explored the potential “arithmetic of compassion” (Slovic & Slovic 2015) and the “caring exhaustion” that arises when the numbers of those suffering—humans, animals, ecosystems—becomes too high to encompass. Human responses to the increasingly frightening scenarios of climate change futures have been termed “eco-anxiety” and “eco-grief” (Hutner 2015; Ray 2019). New developments in ecocriticism arise through the nexus of econarratology, affective ecocriticism, empirical ecocriticism, and mindful /Zen ecocriticism. I discuss this continuing trajectory in ecocriticism, developing from econarrative through ecoaffect (approaches that describe readers’ responses to climate change narratives) and on to empirical and mindful / Zen ecocriticisms (approaches that seek to offer strategies for responding to climate change narratives through affect, activism, and contemplative approaches, and for evaluating the efficacy of those strategies).


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Author Biography

Greta Gaard, University of Wisconsin, River Falls

Greta Gaard is Professor of English and served as Founding Coordinator of the Sustainability Faculty Fellows at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (2015-2019). Her scholarship and teaching emerge from the intersections of student-centered pedagogy, antiracist feminisms, environmental justice, queer ecologies and critical animal studies, exploring a wide range of issues, from postcolonial ecofeminism to children’s environmental literature, and the ecopolitics of climate change. Gaard has served on the Executive Council for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), and on the editorial board for the organization’s journal, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment (ISLE) since 1995. Author or editor of six books of ecocriticism and feminist praxis, Gaard anchors her most recent volume, Critical Ecofeminism (2017), in Australian ecophilosopher Val Plumwood’s foundational work. Gaard’s current research advances conversations across the fields of critical ecofeminism and climate justice, Mindfulness pedagogy, Happiness Studies and Writing Pedagogy, and the Environmental Humanities.






Articles: New Ecocritical Practices