Alexander Menrisky

Aug 16, 2021

Wild Abandon

American Literature and the Identity Politics of Ecology

Cambridge University Press 2020

Despite the proliferation of scientific ecology in the second half of the 20th C emphasizing the interconnection between environment and humanity, Wild Abandon: American Literature and the Identity Politics of Ecology (Cambridge UP, 2020) considers the intersection of ecology with the radical politics of the 1960s and 1970s. This intellectual/literary history considers altered forms of the American wilderness narrative influenced by the ideas and vocabulary taken from psychoanalysis and various identity-based social movements that emerged in this chaotic moment. By deep reading the works of Edward Abbey, Simon Ortiz, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Jon Krakuer, among others, Dr. Menrisky demonstrates how these authors either dramatized or undermined concepts of ecological authenticity within the identity politics of ecology, or IPE. In this framework, IPE represents a story of oscillation: a back-and-forth between writers attempting to shore up a narrative of ecological authenticity and those willing to question it. IPE’s legacy remains within contemporary environmental conversations highlighted by concepts such as #liveauthentic.

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