1st Edition

Christina Rossetti’s Environmental Consciousness

By Todd Williams Copyright 2019
    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    172 Pages
    by Routledge

    Christina Rossetti’s Environmental Consciousness takes a cognitive ecocritical approach to Rossetti’s writing as it developed throughout her career. This study provides a unique understanding of Rossetti’s identity as an artist through a cognitive model while also engaging significantly with her spiritual relationship to the nonhuman world. Rossetti was a deliberate and conscious creator who used her writing for therapeutic purposes to create, contemplate, maintain, verify, and, revise her identity. Her understanding of her autobiographical self and her place in the world often comes through observations and poetic treatments of the nonhuman. Rossetti, her speakers, and her characters seek spiritual knowledge in the natural world and share this knowledge with an audience. In nature, Rossetti finds evidence for and guidance from a loving God who offers salvation. Her work places a high value on nature from a Christian perspective that puts conservation over renunciation. She frequently uses strategies that have now been identified by Christian environmentalist such as retrieval, ecojustice, stewardship, and ecological spirituality. With new readings of popular works like "Goblin Market" and "A Birthday," along with treatments of largely neglected works like Verses (1847) and Rossetti’s devotional writings, Christina Rossetti’s Environmental Consciousness offers an understanding of Rossetti’s processes and purposes as a writer and displays new potential for her work in the face of twenty-first-century environmental issues.


    Introduction: Cognitive Ecocriticism and Rossetti

    Ecocriticism and the Mind

    Rossetti and Psychology

    Rossetti and Ecocriticism


    Chapter 1: Self-Creation and Environment

    Wayfinding Cognition

    The Autobiographical Self and Sociocultural Homeostasis

    The Cognitive Model

    Chapter 2: Embodied Christian Aesthetics and Environmental Ethics

    Agape in Nature

    Dark ‘Nature’ and Religious Environmentalism

    The Anthropocentricism Debate

    Implicit Environmental Ethics

    Chapter 3: Gleaning Ruth: Early Poetry

    Youthful Strains: Verses (1847)

    Being Ellen Alleyn: The Germ

    Nameless Rhymester: Blackwood’s Magazine Submissions

    Chapter 4: Victorious Jael: First Major Poetry Volumes

    Traveling Uphill: Macmillan’s Magazine

    Wayfinding Sisters: "Goblin Market"

    Seasons of Redemption: Goblin Market and The Prince’s Progress Volumes

    Chapter 5: Pious Hannah: Early Devotional Writings

    Retrieving Scripture for the Christian Year: Annus Domini

    Evangelist Models and Nature’s Mirrors: Called to Be Saints

    Creation and Redemption: Seek and Find

    Chapter 6: Fruitful Sarah: The Pageant and Other Poems

    Time’s Order

    The Cognitive Model in Poetry

    Sonnets of Earthly and Spiritual Love

    Chapter 7: Prophetess Anna: Later Devotional Writings

    Nature’s Commandments: Letter and Spirit

    Autobiographical Self-Revision: Time Flies

    Saints and Animals: Revisions to Time Flies

    Apocalyptic Environmentalism: The Face of the Deep


    Todd Owen Williams received his PhD in Literary Criticism and Theory from Kent State University. He is currently an Associate Professor of English at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania where he teaches composition and literature courses including Literature and Psychology and Early World Literature. He has published multiple articles on literary pedagogy, and on Victorian authors including the Rossettis, William Morris, and Oscar Wilde. He is the author of A Therapeutic Approach to Teaching Poetry and a contributor to the volume Teaching Victorian Literature in the Twenty-First Century.