Material Ecocriticism: Materiality, Agency, and Models of Narrativity

  • Serenella Iovino University of Turin
  • Serpil Oppermann Hacettepe University, Ankara
Keywords: new materialisms, material ecocriticism, ecocritical theory, agency, narrative theory, posthumanism

Abstract

The proliferation of studies bearing on the intellectual movement known as the "new materialisms" evinces that a material turn is becoming an important paradigm in environmental humanities. Ranging from social and science studies, feminism, to anthropology, geography, environmental philosophies and animal studies, this approach is bringing innovative ways of considering matter and material relations that, coupled with reflections on agency, text, and narrativity, are going to impact ecocriticism in an unprecedented way.

In consideration of the relevance of this debate, we would like to draw for Ecozon@'s readers an introductory map of the new paradigm and introduce what can be called "material ecocriticism." We will illustrate what we consider to be its main features, situating them in the conceptual horizons of the new materialisms. From this genealogical sketch, we will examine the re-definitions of concepts like matter, agency, discursivity, and intentionality, with regard to their effects on ecocriticism and in terms of their ethical perspectives.

 

Resumen

 

La proliferación de estudios procedentes del movimiento intelectual conocido bajo la rúbrica de "nuevos materialismos" pone de manifiesto que la materia está influyendo en el giro paradigmático de los recientes estudios medioambientales en el ámbito de las Humanidades. Desde los estudios científicos y sociales al feminismo, la antropología, la geografía, pasando por los estudios sobre animales y las filosofías del medio ambiente,  este enfoque incorpora formas innovadoras de aproximarse a la materia y a las relaciones materiales que, acompañadas de reflexiones sobre la agencia o capacidad de acción, el texto y la narración, van a producir un impacto considerable y sin precedentes en la ecocrítica.  

En consideración a la relevancia de este debate queremos ofrecer a los lectores de Ecozon@ un mapa introductorio a este nuevo paradigma. En el presente artículo trataremos las que consideramos son las características fundamentales de la ecocrítica de la materia y las situaremos en el horizonte conceptual de los nuevos materialismos. A partir de este esbozo genealógico, examinaremos las redefiniciones de conceptos como materia, agencia en tanto capacidad de acción, discursividad e intencionalidad y las  relacionaremos con sus efectos en la ecocrítica y en la ética.

 

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Author Biographies

Serenella Iovino, University of Turin

Senior Researcher and Professor of Ethics in the Dipartimento di Lingue e Letterature Straniere e Culture Moderne in the Universita' di Torino. Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Stiftung. She was President of EASLCE (2008-10) and she is currently an honorary member of EASLCE Advisory Board. Member of the Editorial Board of ISLE--Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Environment.

Serpil Oppermann, Hacettepe University, Ankara
She is a Professor in the Department of English in Hacettepe University (Ankara). She was a Fulbright scholar and a visiting Professor at UN Reno. Member of EASLCE Advisory Board and Member of the Editorial Board of ISLE--Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Environment.
Published
2012-03-12