Life Writing in the Anthropocene  book cover
1st Edition

Life Writing in the Anthropocene

ISBN 9780367704339
Published May 28, 2021 by Routledge
292 Pages

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Book Description

Life Writing in the Anthropocene is a collection of timely and original approaches to the question of what constitutes a life, how that life is narrated, and what lives matter in autobiography studies in the Anthropocene. This era is characterised by the geoengineering impact of humans, which is shaping the planet’s biophysical systems through the combustion of fossil fuels, production of carbon, unprecedented population growth, and mass extinction. These developments threaten the rights of humans and other-than-humans to just and sustainable lives.

In exploring ways of representing life in the Anthropocene, this work articulates innovative literary forms such as ecobiography (the representation of a human subject's entwinement with their environment), phytography (writing the lives of plants), and ethological poetics (the study of nonhuman poetic forms), providing scholars and writers with innovative tools to think and write about our strange new world. In particular, its recognition on plant life reminds us of how human lives are entwined with vegetal lives. The creative and critical essays in this book, shaped by a number of Antipodean authors, bear witness to a multitude of lives and deaths.

The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies.

Table of Contents


Life: Writing and Rights in the Anthropocene

Jessica White and Gillian Whitlock

The Process

1. From the Miniature to the Momentous: Writing Lives through Ecobiography

Jessica White

2. Period Rhetoric, Countersignature, and the Australian Novel

Thomas Bristow

3. Writing Toward and With: Ethological Poetics and Nonhuman Lives

Stuart Cooke

4. Becoming D | other: Life as a Transmuting Device

Astrid Joutseno


5. Writing the Lives of Plants: Phytography and the Botanical Imagination

John Charles Ryan

6. "If a Tree Falls …" : Posthuman Testimony in C. D. Wright’s Casting Deep Shade,

Eamonn Connor

7. Writing the Lives of Fungi at the End of the World

Alexis Harley

8. Planetary Delta: Anthropocene Lives in the Blues Memoir

Parker Krieg

9. Memoir and the End of the Natural World

Tony Hughes-d’Aeth

10. "As Closely Bonded as We are:" Animalographies, Kinship, and Conflict in Ceridwen Dovey’s Only the Animals and Eva Hornung’s Dog Boy

Grace Moore

Forum: Writing the Lives of Other-than-Humans

11. "Desperation for Life": Writing Death in the Anthropocene

Jessica White and Gillian Whitlock


12. Writing the Cow: Poetry, Activism, and the Texts of Meat

Jessica Holmes

13. Sheep: Voice | Complicity | Precedent

Barbara Holloway

14. A Triumphal Entry, a Stifled Cry, a Hushed Retreat

Rick De Vos

What’s Next?

15. Her Biography: Deborah Bird Rose

Stephen Muecke

Artist’s Statement

16. Artist’s Statement

Anna Laurent

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Jessica White is based at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her memoir about deafness, Hearing Maud, won the 2020 Michael Crouch Award for a debut work of biography. She is currently writing an ecobiography of nineteenth-century botanist Georgiana Molloy.

Gillian Whitlock is Emeritus Professor in Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland, Australia. She is currently writing Inhumanities: Refugee Lives in the Archives, a life narrative of asylum seekers in detention at the Nauru camp, and the testimony of the things they left behind.