Narrating Nonhuman Spaces
Form, Story, and Experience Beyond Anthropocentrism
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Recent debates about the Anthropocene have prompted a re-negotiation of the relationship between human subjectivity and nonhuman matter within a wide range of disciplines. This collection builds on the assumption that our understanding of the nonhuman world is bound up with the experience of space: thinking about and with nonhuman spaces destabilizes human-scale assumptions. Literary form affords this kind of nonanthropocentric experience; one role of the critic in the Anthropocene is to foreground the function of space and description in challenging the conventional link between narrative and human (inter)subjectivity. Bringing together new formalism, ecocriticism, and narrative theory, the included essays demonstrate that literature can transgress the strong and long-established boundary of the human frame that literary and narrative scholarship cling to. The focus is firmly on the contemporary, but with strategic samplings in earlier cultural texts (the American transcendentalists, modernist fiction) that anticipate present-day anxieties about the nonhuman, while at the same time offering important conceptual tools for working through them.
Table of Contents
Introduction (Marco Caracciolo, Marlene Marcussen, and David Rodriguez)
Part I: Objects and the Resources of Description
Containment and Empathy in Katherine Mansfield’s and Virginia Woolf’s Short Stories (Laura Oulanne)
Floating Air—Solid Furniture: Vibrant Spaces in Virginia Woolf’s "Time Passes" (Marlene Karlsson Marcussen)
The Descriptive Turn in German Nature-Oriented Neue Sachlichkeit (1913–1933): An Essay on Nonhuman Literary Genres (Michael Karlsson Pedersen)
Part II: Catastrophic Narrative Environments
Nonhuman Presence and Ontological Instability in Twenty-First-Century New York Fiction (Lieven Ameel)
Seasonal Feelings: Reading Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl During Winter Depression (Kaisa Kortekallio)
Imagining Posthuman Environments in the Anthropocene: The Function of Space in Post-Apocalyptic Climate Change Fiction (Carolin Gebauer)
"It Wants to Become Real and Can Only Become Prose": Anthropocenic Focalization in 10:04 and The World Without Us (David Rodriguez)
Part III: Scales and Limits of Narrative
Maarit Verronen’s Monomaniacs of the Anthropocene: Scaling the Nonhuman in Contemporary Finnish Fiction (Sarianna Kankkunen)
Plotting the Nonhuman: The Geometry of Desire in Contemporary "Lab Lit" (Marco Caracciolo)
Lithic Space-Time in Lyric: Narrating the Poetic Anthropocene (Brian J. McAllister)
Narrating the "Great Outdoors" (Ridvan Askin)
INSIDE THE GREAT OUTDOORS (Line Henriksen)
Marco Caracciolo is Associate Professor of English and Literary Theory at Ghent University in Belgium, where he leads the ERC Starting Grant project "Narrating the Mesh." Marco’s work explores the phenomenology of narrative, or the structure of the experiences afforded by literary fiction and other narrative media. He is the author of five books, including most recently Narrating the Mesh: Form and Story in the Anthropocene (University of Virginia Press, 2021).
Marlene Karlsson Marcussen holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Southern Denmark, where she currently is scientific assistant. She is the co-editor of How Literature Comes to Matter: Post-Anthropocentric Approaches to Fiction (Edinburgh University Press, 2021), and has published a number of publications on modernism, materiality, and space such as "The Postapocalyptic Motherhood" (Passage, 2019) and "The Abundance of Things in the Midst of Writing: A Post-Anthropocentric View on Description and Georges Perec’s ‘Still Life/Style Leaf’" (Edinburgh 2021).
David Rodriguez is a postdoctoral researcher. He holds a PhD in English from Stony Brook University. His dissertation, Spaces of Indeterminacy: Aerial Description and Environmental Imagination in 20th Century American Fiction, studies images of the environment in the novels of Willa Cather, Paul Bowles, and Don DeLillo. He has written further about the phenomenology of reading descriptions of the view from above in Frontiers of Narrative Studies and econarratology in English Studies.