The Radical Ecology of the Shelleys: Eros and Environment is the first full-length study to explore a radically queer ecology at work in writings by Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley as their discussions of nature and the natural consistently link ecology and erotic practice. Initiated by Timothy Morton in 2010 as a hybrid of two schools of thinking about nature, queer ecology combines the alertness of environmentalists to constructions of the "natural" with efforts of sexuality scholars to denaturalize identity and to expose sexuality as a culture-bound construct. Conceptions of place are central to this investigation not only because an attachment to place is traditionally thought to be the ontological basis of all environmental consciousness (e.g. think-globally-act-locally) but because these two Romantic writers underscore the dynamic interaction between a person’s natural surroundings and his/her interpersonal attachments. The poetical and prose writings of the Shelleys claim our special attention because of their unusual conception of the oikos, the etymological root of "ecology," to mean both local grounds and the social, often domestic, places in which people dwell and desire. The overarching thesis of this book asserts that proto-ecological theories in Romantic-era England cannot be understood separately from discourses related to married/family life, and the texts considered demonstrate the comingling of earthly and erotic enjoyment. The issues raised by Eros and Environment are fundamental not only to literary and queer history but to all humanistic studies. They render the study of nature from a queer perspective a matter of intense interest to scholars in numerous disciplines ranging from ecocriticism and the natural sciences, including climate studies, to feminist criticism and sexuality studies.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Primary Works and Abbreviations
Chapter 1: Queer Ecology and Its Romantic Roots
Chapter 2: "The Nature of Love and Friendship": Ecotones and Other Fine Lines in Percy Shelley’s Writings on Romantic Friendship
Chapter 3: Percy’s Shelley’s Hermaphroditus: Queer Nature & the Sex Lives of Plants in The Sensitive Plant and The Witch of Atlas
Chapter 4: Communal Ecology & the Queer Domesticities of Mary Shelley’s Maurice and Valperga
Chapter 5: Osculate Wildly: Earth-Kissing & Tree-Kissing in Mary Shelley’s The Last Man and Lodore
Conclusion: Tangled, or the Shelleyan Network
Colin Carman earned his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008. A former fellow at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, he has contributed to three book collections, Lacan and Romanticism (2019), Romantic Ecocriticism: Origins and Legacies (2016) and The Brokeback Book: From Story to Cultural Phenomenon (2011). His articles have appeared in such journals as ISLE, European Romantic Review, GLQ, Studies in Scottish Literature and Horror Studies. A Contributing Writer at The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, he is currently an Instructor of English at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado.
"Carman's account of its queerness makes The Radical Ecology of the Shelleys a really interesting, important contribution to Shelley studies and to Romantic ecocriticism. While the strangeness of the natural world is well-established in Romantic scholarship, the strangeness of human sexuality is less established, and the strength of Carman's book lies in his synthesis of the two."
- Seth T. Reno, Aubern University, Review 19