Invoking a ‘Calamity of Peace’: The Private Revolution of Wendell Berry’s "Mad Farmer"


  • Andrew Andermatt Paul Smith's College



Environmentalism, Wendell Berry, agrarian poetry


Building on evolving theories and criticism of post-Vietnam War environmentalism, this essay places Wendell Berry’s agrarian essays and “Mad Farmer Poems” at the cusp of significant ideological change in twenty-first century ecocritical thought. The semi-fictional mad farmer developed in Berry’s poetry collection illustrates how the rural farmer serves as a catalyst for revolutionary environmental change that peacefully marries the private and public uses of wilderness. My analysis of Berry’s poems demonstrates how the poet’s use of symbolism, metaphor, and peaceful protest positions the farmer as the most qualified person to lead us away from mainstream and radical environmentalism and toward a movement indicative of deep-rooted social change.


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Author Biography

Andrew Andermatt, Paul Smith's College

Andrew S. Andermatt currently serves as Professor of English in the Environment and Society Department at Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack region of New York State. He regularly teaches courses in environmental literature, writing, and philosophy. Dr. Andermatt earned his PhD in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2011, with a focus on literary theory and American environmental writers. His research interests include American environmental literature, ecocriticism, place studies, and pedagogy.






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