New Ecocriticisms: Narrative, Affective, Empirical and Mindful
Keywords: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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