1st Edition

Life Writing in the Anthropocene

Edited By Jessica White, Gillian Whitlock Copyright 2021
    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.


    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


    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.