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The Green Dimension in Canadian Poetry. A Bibliographical Guide for Study and Research

  • This guide is meant to provide some initial bibliographical assistance to those who want to study the historical evolution of ecological thinking in Canada on the basis of poetry. A major theoretical assumption underlying this project is that literature gives privileged access to a nation's cultural memory. Even a cursory survey of Canadian literary history supplies ample evidence for the marked presence of ecological attitudes in Canada's mental history. The origin of these attitudes can be traced back to at least the 18th century. By way of generalising, one could argue that literature reflects, and provides subtle insights into, how both native Canadians and immigrant settlers have responded to their 'eco-sphere'. For many Canadian texts bear witness to a thematic preoccupation with the Canadian oikos-area (oikos signifying 'house' in a narrower sense but also 'habitat' in a wider), to which its inhabitants have established a meaningful relationship. No doubt, even a preliminary attempt to explore ecological attitudes in Canadian literature more systematically would be a multi-facetted and difficult task. One of the major practical problems that poses itself immediately is: Which texts could, and ought to be examined? For there are innumerous references to environmental attitudes and ideas in all literary genres -- also in a great many fictional texts, both traditional and contemporary. For the purpose of research and study it would be extremely helpful indeed, if there were comprehensive bibliographical aids that would enable us to approach, and familiarize ourselves with, all these texts more conveniently. But the challenge of collecting pertinent data of this general kind would have been far beyond my scope and resources. This is why the present guide limits its focus to poetry. The working hypotheses motivating this tentative compilation are: i. Poetry is a more ubiquitous literary genre than fiction and drama. According to available evidence, more writers seem to have tried out their skills on poetry than on fiction and drama. Therefore poetry is likely to mirror a greater variety of voices and sentiments. ii. Poems are still a relatively untapped source in the current discussion about the environment. However, a great many poetic texts lend themselves to supplying relevant arguments that could be used in various fields of action such as environmental ethics, evironmental education and, last but not least, conservation. iii. Apart from smaller pieces of the "nature writing" variety, poems dealing with nature and environmental issues are comparatively short, aiming as they do at a single focus and effect. This is why they can be opened up for critical inspection more easily than selected passages from, say, a novel, which would have to be related to the context of the whole work. iv. This guide attempts to direct the user's attention to poems that are accessible in anthologies. A strong argument for selecting poems from anthologies rather than from individual writers' collections is that the anthology editors are likely to have selected precisely those poems of whose appeal to their respective readerships they must have been thoroughly convinced. Thus the mere fact that a poem has been anthologized suggests that it can be considered an important element in the process of Canadian culture building. Therefore, the very poems that have been frequently anthologized could perhaps serve as special barometers of the Canadian ecological sensibility at a given historical moment.
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Author:Norbert H. Platz
Document Type:Other
Date of completion:2004/04/20
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Release Date:2004/04/20
Tag:Naturdichtung; Online-Bibliographie; Umweltpolitik; Ökoliteratur
Deep Ecology; Eco-Poetry; Ecocritical Poetry; Ecocriticism; Green Dimension
GND Keyword:Bibliographie; Kanada; Klima/Ökologie; Literatur; Lyrik; Natur; Naturlyrik; Umwelt; Umweltschutz
Institutes:Fachbereich 2 / Anglistik
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 82 Englische, altenglische Literaturen / 820 Englische, altenglische Literaturen

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